Water Treatment facility in Tradeport East, Liberty County

For the last few weeks, I have receiving various E-mails from supporters on both sides in the pending water treatment plant proposed for Liberty County.   I am neither an expert in water treatment nor the ecology of the marshlands; I do however have a few questions and observations.

If I understand the situation correctly, the Liberty County Development Authority (LCDA) wants a $30 million wastewater treatment facility built adjacent to the Tradeport East Industrial Park.  To this end they have contracted CH2M Hill to construct the facility.  CH2M Hill conducted an environmental study and submitted their paperwork to the Environmental Protection Division (EPD).  This wastewater plant would initially handle two million gallons of wastewater daily and in phase two advance to processing three million gallons.  Some of the facilities freshwater effluent would drain into the Laurel View River and that apparently is the crux of the matter.  (this will impact South Bryan County rivers and estuaries)

As I stated in the first paragraph, I am not an expert but I do have a question or two regarding this treatment plant.  According to year 2000 figures, Liberty County withdraws 17,330,000 gallons per day of potable water.  Can the output from this wastewater facility be further treated and used to serve a potable water need in Liberty County?  Why dump freshwater into a saltwater estuary or river? It would seem to be a no brainer that dumping a sizable amount of fresh water into a salt water body would adversely affect the living things in that immediate area and start drifting out over time. Is this solution of reusing the treated water impractical? Not cost effective?  Three million gallons is one fifth of the daily potable water consumption using year 2000 figures.  Given Coastal Georgia’s potable “water shortage”, this seems like a practical idea.  I’m open to corrections.

Some observations. 

Several critics criticized EPD and CH2M Hills environmental studies, stating they were self serving.  I’m guessing they would prefer to shop around until they found someone willing to present scientific evidence supporting their position?  I’ve heard complaints for years; companies do not conduct studies prior to taking action.  Apparently when a company does just that-the study is drawn into question.

Another questioned the need for taxpayers to support this facility construction.  This is called investment.  It attracts new business, new industry, and new residents which in turn lower your taxes. Target, for example came into the county hiring five hundred workers initially and will hire more workers in the future. SNF Chemtall, Inc. employs 1065 workers. Interstate Paper Corporation has hired 240 and International Greetings USA has hired 165. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure attracting business pays off for everyone.

Others questioned the need for a new wastewater plant.  I find this one somewhat amusing.  Usually local governments wait until the need for infrastructure is urgent before taking action and citizens go up in arms because the local government didn’t anticipate the need.  Liberty County is being condemned by some because they are being proactive and anticipating growth. 

Yet others have condemned the project because it would permit growth, wanting things to remain as they are apparently with comments such as, “”This development in Liberty County: I think we’ve got enough of it.”

Like many others, I too feel the need for further study on the part of LCDA.  I applaud the concept of building a new facility, think it is a great idea and believe it will pay off in the long run.  However, I am not comfortable with the freshwater runoff into the saltwater estuary.  I believe other, more practical uses can be made of the treated water.

Comments

  1. Roy Hubbard says:

    The Coastal Estuary Protection Association is the primary entity involved in challenging the concept put forth by the Liberty County LCDA to discharge millions of gallons of treated wastewater directly into a salt mash estuary. That organization has never taken the position that the proposed wastewater treatment plant should not be built. We have maintained from the begining only that required studies be done by competent personnel to insure that the marsh is capable of handling such a discharge. It is not just a simple cse of dumping ‘fresh water’ into a salt marsh. It is far more complex than that.
    As ‘David’ stated, he is not a scientist. Neither are we at CEPA scientists. We only asked that qualified scientists be given a voice in the matter. That never happened. No, we are not interested in stalling the project until we can find some scientist that will state that the system will not work. We are asking that current, state of the art, proven proceedures and modeling systems be utilized. CEPA has repeatedly stated that we are perfectly willing to accept the findings of a qualified study.
    Certainly there are going to be statements made by people on both sides who do not clearly understand the details of the matter. Unfounded fears will be expressed such as “washing the Dolphin out to sea”.
    No one at CEPA has ever suggested that we do not need growth and development. To the contrary we have expressed our desire for industry to fill the obvious need for jobs and an improvement in the quality of life for not only the residents of Liberty County but of the residents of all the counties bordering our coastline. We have only pressed the point that development be done right. By that I mean done with proper consideration for the protection of the very sensitive and very vital eco system the salt marsh estuaries represent. At the same time, discussion about alternative uses of the discharge and the many complexities of the operation of a wastewater treatment plant has never been part of the argument that CEPA presented. We have maintained that what Liberty Colunty does with their plant is Liberty County’s business as long as it does not adversly affect the salt marshs.
    The studies conducted by first the engineering firm of CH2MHill and then by the State Environmnetal Protection Division were both totally inadaquate. That is a proven fact. “David” has missed a vital point. If the Georgia EPD is choosing to issue permits based on bogus scientific data then what is happening acorss the entire state?
    Regardless, the permit will be issued. Liberty County and the current staff of the Georgia EPD along with the Governor’s office can carry the guilt of allowing the first major step towards setting precedents in development along our coastline that can seriously affect the health of our salt marsh estuaries.

    Roy Hubbard

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