After hearing, PTRF to set up meetings

Published 6:02 pm Saturday, August 3, 2013

The private wells shown to possibly be impacted because of water drawdown by a Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. mine are shown as red dots on this map.

The private wells shown to possibly be impacted because of water drawdown by a Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. mine are shown as red dots on this map. Division of Water Resources.


In the wake of last week’s public hearing for residents concerned with the impact a proposed limestone quarry may have on the Castle Hayne aquifer, the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation will be seeking, and sharing, answers to Beaufort County residents’ questions.

“I kind of had a sense of it beforehand, but the night of the hearing, people had a lot of questions,” said PTRF Riverkeeper Heather Jacobs Deck. “Obviously, a public hearing is not the place to have those questions answered and afterwards, talking to folks, there were suggestions to set up a meeting.”

Those meetings will entail sharing the information PTRF has gathered, and will be gathering, about the possible consequences of Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. drawing 12,000,000 gallons of water per day from the aquifer for use in the mining process. They will also address what happens when that much fresh water — a mix of groundwater and stormwater — is discharged into the headwaters of Blounts Creek, an environment designated as a nursery area for many aquatic species. What steps PTRF may be taking to contest the permits already issued by the state will be discussed, as well, Deck said.

“There’s several permits that have been issued: the mining permit, which was years ago; the 401 permit, which is the first one that was issued, dealing with the ‘footprint’ of the mine and mining through the wetlands; and the NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit),” Deck explained. “At this point in time, the one that staff is looking at is the discharge (NPDES) permit.”

Deck said that PTRF feels like the state followed most environmental laws, but ignored others in deciding to issue the NPDES permit. When it comes to the pH of a given water body, it’s a critical element in the growth and prosperity of many species, but according to environmental consultants hired by Martin Marietta, the pH of the creek will change, which they claim will have no detrimental impact.

“The way we’re looking at this right now is that state law should not allow that to happen … There are certain standards you have to abide by,” Deck said.

PTRF has up to 60 days to contest a permit. Whether that step will be taken will likely be decided at a PTRF board meeting next week, she said.

Deck said that a date has not yet been set for the informational meetings for those seeking information as to how the groundwater system works and how Martin Marietta’s drawdown may impact private wells, but that the meetings will likely be held as panel discussions.

Deck said while some Division of Water Resources staff did stay after the public hearing to answer individuals’ questions, she and her staff will also be gathering information to share.

“We’ll go and do all the homework and bring it to the meeting and present it to folks,” she said.