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No need to rush sewage plant

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POSTED: April 15, 2010 9:06 p.m.
The proposed wastewater treatment plant in neighboring Liberty County appears to be a major step closer to reality. The Georgia EPD announced last week that its study of the privately built but publicly funded plant’s impact on the coast would not be harmful.
But there could be an obstacle ahead.
The finding has upset some environmentalists, who believe the study used to come up with the finding was inadequate. One outspoken critic derided it as no more reliable than a ‘high school science project.’
That may well be the case.
Or, it may instead be true that the data being given the public is sound.
Not being scientists ourselves, we have to rely on the opinions and ability of those with far more knowledge of the topic than we have.
What we do know is that there is still little public confidence among Bryan Countians in the study or in the plant that made such a study necessary.
Why there seems so much distrust of the EPD in general and this treatment plant in particular is up for debate. In the meantime, it appears environmentalists may turn to the courts to stop the project if a discharge permit is granted, and that will likely be a costly process for all concerned.
But, potential lawsuits aside, public distrust of the project is reason enough for the EPD to move slowly on this project, whatever political or financial pressure there may be to get the ball rolling.
And there would certainly seem to be some of that in this deal, given the millions of dollars involved in building a plant of this magnitude. But while the cost is nothing to sneeze at, it is the very scope of the project, which could someday pump as many as 3 million gallons a day of treated freshwater into coastal waters, that requires a measured, cautious approach.
Besides, there seems no real reason to rush to a decision on permitting. We base that view not only on our belief that every question should be answered about this plant before, not after, it is allowed to operate, but also on a recent assertion by the Liberty County Development Authority.  
 According to a recent story in the Coastal Courier, the Hinesville newspaper: “(LCDA CEO Ron Tolley) pointed out that though the study required testing at the plant’s proposed maximum load, it is unlikely the plant would need to treat and discharge 3 million gallons from the get-go.
“‘Some people seem to have the fixation that 3 million gallons will happen every day, but we’re not going to build the full-scale plant initially,’ he said. ‘With the downturn in the economy, many residential projects that were knocking on our door, asking us when we were gonna build this, have gone away.’”
That tells us there’s time to get a second opinion, or convince critics that the first opinion was the right one.
Bryan County News
 

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