RIVER RALLY: Boaters take mine opposition to the waterPublished 10:28pm Saturday, August 17, 2013
Bob Daw spent part of Friday measuring the Blounts Creek bridge.
Daw is part of a core group of people who, from the first word of Martin Marietta Materials’ stated intention to build a 649-acre limestone quarry in southern Beaufort County, have expressed their concerns about how its operations could impact area residents and a creek recognized by the state as a nursery area for aquatic species.
He measured the bridge for a banner — a banner stating opposition to the proposed mine — because he’s taking the fight against the multi-billion dollar company to the very place he believes will be most affected by its actions: the creek itself.
Daw has issued an open invitation to fishermen, kayakers, canoers, jet skiers, crabbers, netters, pleasure boaters and any other person on anything that floats to join him at the foot of the bridge at 11 a.m. Saturday, in a physical show of opposition.
“We know that time’s running out and we know the decision’s been made,” Daw said. “But we can make one more attempt to show smiling faces of people in their boats who relish using these waters — one more visual attempt to ring the right bell.”
Over the past year, a series of public hearings have been held by the North Carolina Division of Water Quality and Division of Water Resources regarding permits needed by Martin Marietta to pump up to 12 million gallons of water per day from the Castle Hayne Aquifer to use in the mining process, then discharge the mix of groundwater and stormwater into the headwaters of Blounts Creek. According to studies by Martin Marietta consultants Groundwater Management Services, the drawdown of groundwater will impact up to 190 privately owned wells, for which Martin Marietta has a response plan to repair or replace the wells, or hook well owners up to the county water system. According to studies by Martin Marietta environmental consultants CZR Incorporated, the freshwater discharge will not negatively impact the creek and its tributaries though it does stand to change the pH of the waters there. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
permit to discharge the water into the creek was issued by DWQ in July, while the Central Coastal Plain Capacity Use Area (CCPCUA) water withdrawal permit is pending.
Though residents have turned out in force to the public hearings to express their concerns over the impact on saltwater species and the specifics of Martin Marietta’s response plan, those concerns have remained unheard, according to Daw.
“Martin Marietta has assets of 4 billion dollars,” Daw said. “It’s a great, big steamroller that can’t be stopped. I want to send a word to Pat McCrory that he better listen up and ask some question because there’s a big, bad storm coming from Blounts Creek … Daggonit, it just ain’t right. I want everybody to load up their kids and their boats, so we as parents and as grandparents can show we tried to stop this, tried to save this creek.”
Daw and others came up with the idea for the Blounts Creek Boat Rally at a recent meeting of concerned residents and so far, the response has been good, he said.
“I’m going to try my best to have about 100 boats out there in a pile,” he laughed.
The invitation to the rally has been circulated by the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation, a grassroots nonprofit founded in 1981, with the stated mission to protect, preserve and promote the environmental quality of the Tar-Pamlico River and its watershed. PTRF board and staff is currently considering a legal challenge to NPDES permit. PTRF Executive Director Harrison Marks said he expects that he and Riverkeeper Heather Jacobs Deck, among others, will attend the rally on the water.
Daw said his hope is that the rally, and its numbers, will open up a dialogue between those concerned about the mine’s potential impact and those making the decisions to allow the process to move forward.
“I don’t know what the final outcome will be, but we can keep making the noise and be the thorn under the saddle,” Daw said. “The governor had better hear our voice down here … Nobody’s heard it yet.”