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Growing environmental concern noted

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POSTED: June 9, 2007 5:02 a.m.
Since transplanting myself from the over-developed and polluted town of Cleveland, Ohio to the forested and marsh-lined county of Liberty, I have begun to change my attitude regarding the environment.
When I first arrived, I was unaware of the wide array of wildlife, which is indigenous to this area.
Our marshes are a national attraction, and the interest of living on the coastline has grown exponentially in just a decade.  
During the past 50 years, Georgia’s population has risen from about three million to five million people, and in the next 20 years the population is expected to geometrically increase by 12 to 16 million people, according to the Environmental Protection Department.
To support this growth, thousands of living units (homes, condos and apartments) are planned for construction in the next seven to 10 years in Liberty County alone.
Indeed, the county will further experience a rise in economic, residential, industrial and commercial growth, but will there be a backlash?
I am aware the officials in this area are competent, but are they prepared to handle the potentially negative outcomes that may arise in the years to come.
I have asked many of the city officials in the region to specifically tell me how they will retain the integrity of the environment as development encroaches, but all they offer are generalized answers.
My favorite is when they say, “This county will look the same 25 years down the road, so our children can enjoy all the great amenities of this area.”
In other words, blah, blah, children, blah, blah. How is the environment going to look the same as Liberty’s coast is becoming one of the hottest coastal commodities on the Eastern Seaboard? The property value along the coast has skyrocketed, and prices will continue to climb for this coveted land.
Currently, the stormwater (which runs off impervious surfaces like rooftops and roads) in these coastal developments is being flushed into the marsh, and this is already causing changes to the ecosystem.
Dr. Peter Varity of the Skidiway Oceanographic Institute said the oxygen level in the marshes is dropping due to this stormwater pollution. Shellfish, crabs and wildlife are dying off, and the problem is worsened by the escalation of jellyfish, which thrive in waters with lower oxygen levels.
It’s no surprise Gov. Sonny Purdue has worked to form an Environmental Advisory Council to figure out how to regulate the growing development in the state.
Liberty County has worked proactively as well by forming the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission, but regulations still need to be tightened.
This development has the potential of bringing much prosperity to the area. I just hope this county does not turn into a Boston Harbor, a Chesapeake Bay or a Cleveland, Ohio.
 

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