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Opinion: You are needed at EPD hearing

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POSTED: May 27, 2009 2:30 a.m.

The EPD will hold a public meeting at the Midway Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. on the evening of May 27th.

The subject of this meeting is the proposed wastewater plant designed to discharge affluent into the upper reaches of the Medway River. This issue continues to be of considerable concern to the residents of both Bryan and Liberty Counties. It has quickly become an issue of concern for an even larger number of people over a wider geographical area. We have been joined by non-residents of the coast and by the membership of many environmental organizations. Our only demand was that proper scientific analysis be done to determine the impact of such a discharge of affluent into a salt water estuary.

A proper environmental impact study was needed to either prove or negate the potential for disastrous environmental consequences. The existing data EPD was using as a basis for their Environmental Impact Study (EIS) was dismissed as irrelevant, outdated, and useless. It was pitifully evident, even to the novice environmentalist, that the documents supporting granting of a

permit to dump over a billion gallons of treated waste water into the Medway River were totally unacceptable. That position was supported by the opinions of well qualified marine scientists who reviewed them.

It appeared that, after the combined protests of so many people and the resultant public exposure of the permitting process, the EPD was convinced that they should start afresh, review the circumstances and seek professional scientific guidance from reliable sources.

A meeting, entitled "stakeholders meeting" was held between the Liberty County Development Authority, their partner, design/engineering company CH2MHill, the EPD, the Coastal Estuary Protection Association, the Ogeechee/Canuchee River Keepers Association and last but far from least, scientists from the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography SkIO). After a review of the facts it was determined at that meeting that further discussion was needed between just two of the entities involved, the EPD and SkIO.

That made sense. A discussion about scientific analysis of salt marsh and the proper methods and procedure by which to gather the information is better left to scientists. Engineers and politicians and public environmental groups need only be informed of the results.

Everyone welcomed this apparent progress with the promise of bringing the same level of energy to cooperation and support for the new program as was demonstrated in the movement against what was a rush to judgement.

We know the subject of the public meeting scheduled for the 27th but I am mystified as to the purpose for that meeting. I fail to understand why public comment is being solicited on a subject that has already been through that process and was apparently well on its way to an acceptable resolution.

It would seem that a statement by the EPD in the form of a press release would suffice to inform the public as to the progress being made towards a cooperative arrangement between EPD and SkIO to undertake an environmental impact study designed and enacted by SkIO personnel.

Any actions short of involving SkIO in every step of the process, regardless of how they are qualified or explained would constitute no progress at all past the time of the so called "stakeholders" meeting.

I strongly urge everyone who has an interest in our salt marsh estuaries to attend this meeting. A clear public understanding of the EPD’s position on this matter is important. A clear understanding by the EPD that the interest in this matter by the public has not waned since that night last November when over four hundred people came to a similar meeting to voice their concerns.

Call your friends, your relatives and your neighbors. Get a baby sitter, car pool, do whatever is necessary to be in the room when that meeting starts. We need to make sure this process is on the right track and that it is going to stay there. Don’t depend on someone else to get the job done. Go look in the mirror. Who you see is the one responsible for insuring that our coastal eco-systems are protected.

 

Richmond Hill resident Roy Hubbard is a retired Green Beret. He also is an environmentalist and charter boat skipper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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