Asking why, July 31, 2013

Published 8:32 pm Tuesday, July 30, 2013

To the Editor:

I’m a retired Environmental Engineer who moved to NC about 4 years ago. When I was still working it was my understanding that state-implemented plans were to be as strict, and perhaps more stringent than the Federal requirements of the CWA. If that is no longer true, please advise.

Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. (MMM) contracted with Kimley-Horn and Associates (KH) to generate a “Water Quality Analysis” report. Reading from the report KH states: “The two main water quality parameters that the quarry dewatering discharge could affect are pH and salinity. The pH of the existing headwater/swamp streams is very low (4.0 to 5.5). The results of the analysis predict that the pH of these systems would be elevated to 6.5 to 6.9.”

Under 15A NCAC 02B.0211(3)(g) it states: “pH: shall be normal for the waters in the area, which generally shall range between 6.0 and 9.0 except that swamp water may have a pH as low as 4.3 if it is the result of natural conditions;” and under 15A NCAC 02B.0231(b)(5)(E) it further states: “Hydrological conditions necessary to support the biological and physical characteristics naturally present in wetlands shall be protected to prevent adverse impacts on the pH of the wetland;.”

What I fail to understand is why an NPDES permit was ever issued to MMM, as well as a a 401 Certification. If the law/regulation will be “broken” when MMM starts to discharge up to 12,000,000 gpd to the headwaters of Blounts Creek, why are we (there were over 1,000 signatures on a petition against the discharge) still discussing this matter?

Last week, I sent these questions to a lot of folks we’ve already talked to and kicked it all the way up to the administrator to the EPA in big Washington. No one has responded.

Hopefully, someone will be able to make me understand why this project is still moving forward instead of having been terminated long ago.

Bob Boulden