Columbia County breaks silence on stormwater issue in neighborhoods


Columbia County broke it’s silence to NewsChannel 6 about the stormwater problems certain neighborhood have seen.

Jones creek, and now Spring Lakes have been asking for their help.

Silt piling up in ponds that neighbors once loved to look at. It’s one of the selling points for their neighborhoods, some say.

But with infrastructure improvements at an incline, Stormwater is definitely moving at a decline.

Deputy County Manager, Matt Schlachter, says, “I guess the biggest issue is that these are all private ponds that have been come up here lately.”

Columbia County is speaking up and even talking about Jones Creek.

“Jones Creek was a huge one. We went through a federal law suit on that and it was determined that we were not liable for that silt,” says Schlachter.

So, the county says, legally they aren’t liable for any other private pond.

“So, when it comes to Spring Lakes, it’s a private pond. By law, we can’t go in there and spend county dollars on private property,” says Schlachter.

But this is something homeowners, of course, can understand. When it comes to storm water retention, that could be considered county use, which is something county leaders say they, too, can also understand. However, they also say it was the developers choice to keep private.

“The county does not build neighborhoods. That’s not the business the government is in. Never have never will,” says Schlachter.

There’s been a stand still, and homeowners have been juggling options. They need help that requires money and turn to their leaders, but that would make the pond a public pond. And county leaders may not even take it.

“If you want to give us a pond, that’s great. We’ll take your pond. If it meets our code. It’s got to be working, it’s got to be functional, it’s got to meet every bit of our code. Same with a road.”

Is the best advice to just give up your pond before it’s too late?

“It is always an option, but the neighborhood must make that business decision. It is a business decision for them to weigh the good with the bad. Give it to the county and the county will maintain it, but it’s also public property. Keep it private, you maintain it,” says Schlachter.

So, it’s a catch 22 but leaders say they are meeting with Spring Lakes HOA in and the Army Corps. of Engineers to sort out the issue.

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