Fayette County

News

Lawsuit accuses Trilith developers of polluting Fayetteville lakes and creeks

An image showing water pollution to Lake Bennett in Fayetteville, Georgia.

By Michael Cuneo – 

A lawsuit accusing the developers of the town of Trilith of polluting various water sources in Fayetteville has been filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Crystal Lake Garden Club LLC and Flint Riverkeeper Inc. filed the suit, accusing Trilith developers of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) provisions by not enacting proper precautions to prevent stormwater pollution and sediment from flowing into nearby creeks and lakes.

“Since [Trilith] began their construction activities at the Development, during and following every measurable rain event, [Trilith] discharge heavily polluted stormwater containing silt, sediment, gravel, construction waste, and other pollutants into the Creeks, tributaries, wetlands, and Lake Bennett.” the lawsuit claims.

The suit specifically points out the water pollution to Lake Bennett, which includes the historic Bennett’s Mill that was created before the civil war.

Crystal Lake Garden Club LLC is a collation of 23 residents within the Crystal Lake Estates subdivision (where Lake Bennett is located) who claim that pollution caused by the development at Trilith is a continual problem.

“There is a reasonable likelihood that [Trilith] will continue to violate the requirements of CWA section 404 by continuing to illegally deposit fill material into Waters of the United States including the Creeks, their tributaries, and their wetlands.” the lawsuit states.

According to the lawsuit, this image shows improperly designed and constructed BMP’s around Trilith.

Flint Riverkeeper Inc., the other party involved in presenting the lawsuit, is a non-profit organization of approximately 900 members created to prevent water pollution within Georgia’s lakes and creeks.

Gordon Rogers, the executive director of Flint Riverkeeper, said that the residents turned to his organization after becoming frustrated with the city of Fayetteville.

“Riverkeepers should not have to exist. The government should just do its job. The only reason that we’re here and doing what we’re doing is because somebody is failing at their job.” Rogers said.

Although the lawsuit was not filed in court until July of 2021, letters of intent to file litigation have been sent to Trilith (formerly Pinewood Forest) as early as 2019.

The lawsuit says that the city of Fayetteville deemed the wetlands surrounding then Pinewood Forest to have been negatively impacted by construction, ordering the developers to remediate the situation.

“In January 2020, City of Fayetteville determined that wetlands around the development had been negatively impacted and required Pinewood Forest to undertake mitigation and remediation measures.” the lawsuit reads.

According to the lawsuit, the city of Fayetteville conducted 313 inspections at sights within Trilith in 2018, citing at least 70 instances of improper best management practices (BMP’s). BMP’s are prohibitions and requirements set in place to limit erosion and sedimentation due to construction.

The suit also claims that Trilith has been notified and informed about the alleged pollution created from their development numerous times but has yet to provide any remedies.

The Georgia Water Coalition published an article titled “Worst Offenses Against Georgia’s Water,” listing the alleged pollution of Whitewater Creek and Lake Bennett as one of the dirtiest in Georgia.

“Trilith must act immediately to stop the continued pollution of Whitewater Creek Lake Bennett, and settle the pollution and trespass suit filed by Crystal Lake Estate homeowners and Flint Riverkeeper to restore and remediate damage done to the creek, lake and wetlands.” the article reads.

Representatives for Trilith did not respond to a request for comment from the Fayette County News.

By Michael Cuneo

Michael Cuneo is a news and sports reporter for the Fayette County News. Michael graduated from Georgia State University with a degree in Journalism in 2020. In his off time, Michael enjoys torturing himself as an Atlanta Falcons fan. Follow Michael on twitter @michaelcune