PART 4 of 7 By Kelleigh Nelson
July 16, 2012
Impact on Neighboring Properties
Woody’s neighbor on the East lost his stream flow from one of the streams that converges on the Airport property, but crosses the neighbor’s property first. He lost his stream flow to a wetland. The neighbor is currently in front of a Water Board in the State of Tennessee trying to rectify that impact. On the other side, the other stream has exponentially more water flowing from it. One inch of rain on a 300 acre parcel of land, in its natural state, which is what this was, produces 500,000 gallons of storm water runoff. When developers covered the 300 acres with a hard surface, that same one inch of rain produced eight million gallons of storm water runoff. So just as the engineers told Woody, he was eight inches under water. That was the first impact. It is against Tennessee Law to increase the water flow of a water way. Retention ponds and basins are to be utilized in order to keep this from happening. After the rain subsides, the additional waters can be released from the holding areas without negatively impacting the downstream areas.
Measuring Turbidity of the Water
The second impact is the water pollution. The federal limit on turbidity is 280 units (NTU). Turbidity basically measures the solids in the water to determine the level of pollution. It is the ability to shine a light through a water sample to see the suspended solids in the water. When the streams started being contaminated due to the development, Woody, and his brother, Reg, bought a machine to test the waters and check the impact to see how bad the pollution was on their property. The machine they purchased only goes up to 4,000 NTU, the measurement of turbidity.
Their measured numbers were regularly in the 2,400 to 3,500 turbidity ranges until they started going so high they could no longer be measured. The numbers were off the machine, over 4,000 NTU. Reg called the factory, had the machine calibrated and checked to make sure it was properly reading the turbidity numbers. Since the machine was functioning properly, Woody and Reg had an official engineer come out to take certified stream readings because their readings would not be legally valid if litigation ensued. He calibrated and used their machine. The official readings were the same as theirs had been.
Please keep in mind the federal limit on turbidity is 280. Come to find out later when the Tennessee Department of Conservation released their turbidity readings from their own monitoring stations in the stream, they were up to 14,000 units. That’s 50 times higher than the safe limit specified in the Clean Water Act. This intermodal is built on a Memphis aquifer feeder and they’re running 14,000 NTU polluted water straight into the watershed. This is the same watershed they were afraid to build on at the previous site for fear of pollution. Woody and Reg can no longer drink water from the well on their property because the water is so contaminated. This is real water, real aquifers, real people, real wells, real streams, and these big developers are essentially buying their way around the regulations.
The true turbidity that they’re dumping into the Wolf River is now over 16,000 NTUs. This is documented by TDEC and Woody has the official files. TDEC has turned their backs on this pollution, as has the Wolf River Conservancy. Keith Cole, Executive Director of the WRC stated they are “not concerned with enforcement.” When the turbidity is that high and they say they’re not concerned about enforcement, then you know there’s a big payoff somewhere. Remember that land that Adair donated to the Wolf River Conservancy that has become the Wolf River Mitigation Bank? Well, the WRC was selling off mitigation credits at $40,000 each, which made the value of those 80 acres of donated land worth $3.2 million dollars. So, in essence, the very issue – water pollution of the Wolf River Watershed – that the WRC opposed previously, is happening right now before their very eyes, and they are not concerned with enforcement of the laws. Perhaps the $3.2 million dollar donation by William Adair has a bearing on that issue. Ultimately, when Woody and Reg exposed this entire illegal program at the state level, the WRC closed its illegal mitigation bank and turned it back over to the TWRA to run, trying to get out before being exposed themselves.
William Adair bought the 3,000 acre Twin Hill Ranch property in 2007. An important factor in this land use decision for the intermodal that has garnered little attention is the fact that Twin Hill Ranch serves as an important recharge area for the region’s drinking water source. The Memphis Sand Aquifer touches the surface in numerous places on the Ranch and the site for the proposed intermodal facility sits atop the Memphis Sand Aquifer. The intermodal facility environmental assessment shows drinking water wells in the vicinity that serve people living on Knox Road, Neville Road and U.S. 57. The town of Rossville obtains its public supply from three other shallow wells. If any drinking water wells are affected, these likely will be the first ones where contamination could appear.
Quite obviously with the turbidity count so high on Wolf River Airport, there is little doubt other wells in the vicinity that serve the area are also polluted or soon will be.
Where Does the Money Go?
Woody and Reg have exposed this entire program. They were told they were crazy and the “In-Lieu-Fee” program didn’t exist. They went to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) office and TDEC refused to give them any documents regarding In-Lieu-Fee’s. TDEC stated the documents went back to Nashville, so Woody and Reg went to Nashville to get them. In Nashville, they were told the documents had been sent back to Memphis. Again they went back to the Memphis Field Office of TDEC and when they went in, they were told the copy machine wasn’t working. They told the men they could look at the documents, but not copy them. Fortunately, Reg was prepared and he brought his copy machine with him and copied all the documents. The In-Lieu-Fee program does exist.
In one case, the developers bought one stream beside Woody’s airport for $787,700. The other stream on the other side they bought for $946,000. Keep in mind they only bought the upper portion of either one of those streams. They didn’t buy the entire stream. The questions they were asking in the TDEC files were not, “Should we impact this much stream?” or “Is this too serious?” No, the only question they asked was, “How much money do we charge?”
Adair and the Piperton Waste Water Treatment Plant
The Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) is a gift from Adair to the City of Piperton and it is still not finished. Power lines were just run to it the first of June, 2012. Of course because this is a tax free gift to the citizens of Piperton through politics, the politicians are accommodating every move Adair makes.
In 2009, Woody started writing letters to the city of Piperton, and the City Engineer. He told them the plans for the treatment plant were too close to the airport by Federal Aviation Administration Advisory standards. Any ground water attracts birds and other wildlife. You can’t have either near an airport. They told him they didn’t care, they were still putting it in where they planned, which was right smack next to the airport. Woody actually has the original plat from Neel Schaffer Engineering, and the woman who gave it to him got fired.
In 2010, Woody wrote emails to the City of Piperton, to Mr. Vojin Janjic atTennessee Department of Environmental Conservation (TDEC), and to William Adair stating the Waste Water Plant was too close to the airport. Of interest is the fact that Adair’s name is on the permit for the plant, but only a municipality can be the permit holder for a Waste Water Plant. Technically, Piperton issued the permit illegally, but it was only because they were getting everything gratis from William Adair. Actually, Piperton Mayor, Buck Chambers, applied for the permit, but Adair signed it. He was the developer and applicant for the permit. The City Manager of Piperton, Stephen Steinbach, told Woody verbatim, “I can find no evidence to suggest that there exists any mandatory federal locational criteria that would prevent the City from realizing its goal of having its first centralized Waste Water Treatment facility constructed on the selected site.” In other words, they felt, no obeisance to federal regulation, Memorandums of Agreement laws, or their own state laws, or desire to protect the property of their citizens.
William Adair bought land down from the airport, and apportioned other parcels of land by eminent domain to be used in part for the WWTP. Adair said he was “horse trading” for these several parcels of land during the eminent domain process on other properties (private entities) for the WWTP he was giving to Piperton. In trading the land, he donated 80 acres to the Wolf River Conservancy to establish and operate the Wolf River Wetland Mitigation Bank.
The Wetland Mitigation Bank, according to federal standards, is also too close to the Airport. (FAA-CIRCULAR-150_5200_33b) The City of Piperton also took land by eminent domain from a neighbor, Bruce Bowling, and paid him $16,000 per acre. The man didn’t want to sell, and he didn’t want to lose his property as it had been in the family for generations, but Adair wanted it for his WWTP. When a city is having a Waste Water Treatment Plant built for them free of charge, they’ll accommodate the one paying the bill.
We’ll continue the battle of the WWTP location and the ensuing lawsuit in part 5.Then Woody arranged a conference call between Vojin Janjic of TDEC, (which is a subsidiary of EPA) and a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) official from Atlanta to explain the agreements that have long existed in theMemorandum of Understanding between FAA and EPA, Corps of Engineers, the Navy, and other agencies. These agreements state there must be a 5,000 foot minimum separation between the Waste Water facilities and airport operations. The WWTP was only 1,750 feet from the airport! Waste Water Treatment Plant’s are specifically mentioned in the Advisories. They state that bird strikes are the number one cause of aircraft crashes and thus any sitting water is a danger to aircraft within a specified area. (RememberCaptain Sullenberger who landed in the Hudson? His plane ran into a flock of geese).
© 2012 Kelleigh Nelson – All Rights Reserved
Kelleigh Nelson has been researching the Christian right and their connections to the left, the new age, and cults since 1975. Formerly an executive producer for three different national radio talk show hosts, she was adept at finding and scheduling a variety of wonderful guests for her radio hosts. She and her husband live in Knoxville, TN, and she has owned her own wholesale commercial bakery since 1990. Prior to moving to Tennessee, Kelleigh was marketing communications and advertising manager for a fortune 100 company in Ohio. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, she was a Goldwater girl with high school classmate, Hillary Rodham, in Park Ridge, Illinois. Kelleigh is well acquainted with Chicago politics and was working in downtown Chicago during the 1968 Democratic convention riots. Kelleigh is presently the secretary for Rocky Top Freedom Campaign, a strong freedom advocate group.