Katherine Jacobsen

Katherine Jacobsen lives on Cleburne County Road 805 (near Hollis) and about 400 feet from the JDS Septic Service sewage and grease disposal facility. Photo by Bill Wilson / The Anniston Star

JDS Septic Service owner Joey Sprayberry said he’s “truly sorry” that his treated-sewage disposal facility near Hollis is causing headaches for so many people, but he has no plans to quit dumping anytime soon.

Defined as a “land application site” by the Alabama Department of Health, the 5-acre tract used by Sprayberry to dispose of grease and sewage has some local residents upset.   

Sprayberry is adamant about keeping his facility open. 

“Here’s my problem. I do not want to keep causing people issues and concern, I understand that, but I went about everything, hiring an engineer to do this however the law said it need to be done. He followed the rules, we got it approved, we have our permits and everything,” Sprayberry said. 

At a Cleburne County Commission meeting earlier this month residents voiced concerns about the treatment facility to the commission. Residents learned that the law allows Cleburne County no provisions for home rule or limited self governance to control, permit or pass any nuisance ordinances concerning the treatment facility.

At the meeting Ryan Robertson, the commission’s chairman, told the residents to call their elected representatives in the Alabama Legislature for help.

Robertson gave out the phone numbers of state Sen. Randy Price and state Rep. Ginny Shaver. Attempts to reach Price by phone on Tuesday were unsuccessful. 

Reached by phone on Tuesday, Shaver said the treatment facility is not actually in her district but said she is helping Price resolve the issue.

“If I can do anything to help people I will,” Shaver said.

Shaver said she spoke with Sprayberry recently about the treatment facility.

“He said, ‘these people just don’t want to smell that,’ I said, ‘no they don’t,’ I said, ‘I wouldn’t want to live next to it, would you?”

Shaver said that it’s “indicated” that Sprayberry has the necessary permits but is concerned about nearby residents’ wells.

Shaver said she is checking to see if the wells around the facility had been documented when Sprayberry got the permits to open his facility. 

“I don’t see how you can be that close to somebody’s well water and get a permit for that, so if permits can be denied I’m working on that,” Shaver said.

Shaver said that because the facility isn’t in her district, she’s giving Price, the senator, the lead on the effort to work out a resolution on the matter.

“I sure wouldn't want to live there in that, smell that. I don’t think anybody would,” Shaver said.

Sprayberry said he is aware that wells are located 500 feet from the facility and during the permitting process an engineer took note of them.

“That was all supposed to be in the permitting process, and before it was approved, all that had to be checked out,” said Sprayberry.

Sprayberry said that when he was looking for a site for the treatment facility, he was happy to find the tract near his home. 

“I felt like God opened up a door to find something that was 2 miles from my house. I could keep an eye on it,” he said.

Sprayberry also said he’s helping restaurants in Heflin stay open by disposing of their accumulated grease.

“We’ve got to have a way to keep these restaurants and everybody open, the city of Heflin does not take grease. So this is just an option we have to keep some of these restaurants up and going, by treating the grease and keeping it all local,” said Sprayberry.

Sprayberry said he has a verbal agreement with state inspectors to not dump any treated sewage and grease until grass grows on the site. The site was replanted with grass recently and is coming back, according to Sprayberry.

Sprayberry said that he’s invested too much time and money into the treatment facility to bow to public pressure.

“If I had it to do over I probably, you know, would do something else because I don’t want to cause anybody any trouble,” Sprayberry said.

​Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.