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Water under the bridge 

THIS IS THE STINKY SEASON in Savannah: The time when the paper mill’s sulfurous odor becomes more prominent, either through an inversion effect brought on by cooler weather or, as the old–timers insist, because this is when International Paper secretly cranks up the output of its smokestacks.

The past few days have seen a stinkier autumn kickoff than usual, and this year our water system seems to be the focus. A family member texted me over the weekend asking “Does your tap water smell like B.O.?” A walk downtown brought fetid odors climbing out of stormwater drains.

A change in the weather? Or something else? Who knows anymore?

We found out over the weekend that the harbor deepening plan which is to be the savior of the local economy — even though our port is already number two in exports in the country — will feature “solutions” to the environmental threat that a deepening will pose to the city drinking water supply, among them a fairly hair-brained scheme involving a huge reservoir.

Various city officials say — and I paraphrase here — that, golly gee, they sure hope the kindly feds will find a way to pay for such a costly reservoir, or perhaps the similarly costly measure of moving our surfacewater treatment infrastructure further upstream to avoid the salt plume pushing upriver after the bottom is gouged out again.

Keep in mind that no one disputes that another harbor deepening will have dire effects on the city drinking supply. The dispute is how far the Corps of Engineers and Georgia Ports Authority should go to offset those effects, and who will pay for it from which pot of taxpayer money.

In other words, your drinking water —already compromised by saltwater intrusion from years of industrial overuse of the aquifer — is now being explicitly sacrificed in the name of the port and its dubious guarantee of more jobs in the future (which even a Corps study says is unlikely).

There are water problems all over. The other day State Sen. Buddy Carter penned an op–ed in the local daily professing shock and promising action in the wake of an embarrassingly puny million–dollar penalty on a textile plant for essentially turning a 40–mile stretch of the Ogeechee River into a junior Chernobyl.

Interestingly, Sen. Carter forgot to mention that he and his party, which controls the entire state government, have devoted years to dismantling environmental regulation in Georgia. Well, bless his heart!

If he were totally honest, Carter’s column would have ended like this:

“It’s almost as if King America Finishing concluded they’d never be held accountable for their actions. And frankly, I’m shocked the penalty was as high as it was.”

Just as long as you don’t blame Buddy. It’s that darn big government at fault. Not that anyone elected him to help run that big government or anything like that.... 

 

 

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About The Author

Jim Morekis

Jim Morekis

Bio:
A native Savannahian, Jim has been editor-in-chief of Connect Savannah for ten years. The University of Georgia graduate is also a travel writer, authoring regional guides in the Moon handbook series... more

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Connect Today 04.28.2017

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