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.
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.