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State EPD has studied sewage plant, plans more
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Editor, Recently, media attention has been focused a proposed wastewater facility that would discharge highly treated wastewater to the Laurel View River between Bryan and Liberty counties. The water would be treated to a level safe for watering your lawn and discharged to the estuary only during times when it could not be used beneficially for spray irrigation, such as during rain events. While I very much appreciate the degree to which the citizens of the area became engaged, it didn’t take, as some have suggested, public outrage to get us to follow established procedures. Public input, contentious or not, is part of our regular process and we fully understand our responsibility to address public concern.
Commentators have suggested that it is unacceptable to rely on environmental studies conducted by the company’s paid consultant as a basis for the draft permit. I agree. In fact, the permit that we drafted was based directly on our own computer modeling of mid-tide estuary dynamics and was not conducted by a paid consultant.
I believe that our modeling provided a sufficient understanding for the draft permit and that the highly treated discharge from this facility would be environmentally acceptable. However, given the public concern on this draft permit, and out of an abundance of caution, I have determined that collection of additional data on site specific conditions is entirely appropriate.
And contrary to what has been reported, this would not be the first facility of its type on the Coast. The cities of St. Simons Island and Darien, and the city of Brunswick Academy Creek facility all have permits to discharge into tidally-influenced waters.
Again, given the degree of public concern, it makes sense for us to base this decision on additional data. The public comment process is working. EPD should be seen as fully committed to the public process and to protecting this vital natural resource.
Carol A. Couch, Director, Georgia
Environmental Protection Division
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