MY TURN: Sliced bread and Martin MariettaPublished 9:54pm Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Let’s view Blounts Creek as a half loaf of evenly sliced bread. The small end of the loaf is the swamp where Martin Marietta Materials proposes to discharge 9 million gallons of water each day. It is a pretty small slice. Further downstream near Bay Harbor or Long Point Landing, the slice is much larger. Please remember the two slices as we discuss the pending issues.
Martin Marietta and their consultants make assumptions based on computer models, data they have gathered and reference documents from around the U.S. and elsewhere. What I don’t see being used is local knowledge and common sense.
For discussion purposes, let’s assume that one half of the water does not make it into Blounts Creek — it evaporates, floods the land forming new swamp, is absorbed by trees and the like. That still leaves 4.5 million gallons per day to enter the creek. The pH of the water varies dramatically between the small, swamp slice (4.0-5.5) and the area downstream, which is similar to the quarry discharge water (6.3-6.9). Some animals, fish and plants in the swamp will not tolerate this change in pH and likely will move to a new location or die. A swamp has little or no flow — now discharge 4.5 million gallons per day into it (remember the small slice) and you will have flow. Again, the makeup of the swamp will change. Farther downstream, the flow will not be as noticeable due to a much larger slice of bread. Our slices of bread will be influenced by other factors such as temperature and aluminum from the quarry discharge.
Last week, the Washington Daily News printed a picture showing the effects of the strong westerly wind on the Pamlico River — much less water. The same thing happened to Blounts Creek — much less water. With a continued discharge of 4.5 million gallons per day from the quarry, the small and large slices of bread would be stressed more than usual during these events. At the Estuarium in Washington, its displays emphasize all things in our estuary are interdependent. What happens in the swamp influences the creek and ultimately the river.
While I’m not against the quarry, let’s ensure that Martin Marietta looks at the bigger picture, not just corporate profit, and chooses a plan to protect Blounts Creek now and for future generations. To me, direct discharge to Blounts Creek is not the best plan. Please write to your legislators and the N.C. Division of Water Quality expressing your concerns. The public hearing Thursday is the first day of the 30-day public-comment period. It is not too late to make your voice heard!
Capt. Bob Boulden is the owner of Miss Bea Charters, which is based in Beaufort County.