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St. Mary’s River committee chair asks GA regulators to deny withdrawal permit

May 15, 2011

Mr. Ade Oke
Georgia Environmental Protection Division
4220 International Parkway, Suite 101
Atlanta, GA 30354
Re: Miocene Holdings surface water withdrawal permit

Dear Mr. Oke:

On behalf of the St. Marys River Management Committee, please accept this letter of concern regarding the Miocene Holdings surface water withdrawal permit application under consideration by your office. The St. Marys River Management Committee is an intergovernmental entity of elected and appointed members from four counties along the St. Marys River including Charlton, Camden, Nassau and Baker counties.

The Committee is very concerned about the detrimental impacts to the St. Marys River that would likely occur as a result of the implementation of the Miocene Holdings project. The proposed project would remove 350,000 gallons of water per day from the St. Marys River, filter the water to remove the natural tannins, and then return the filtered water to the river. The removed tannins will be used as a soil amendment for agricultural purposes.

As a public advocate for the St. Marys River, the Committee has numerous concerns about this proposed project. From a water quantity perspective, the Committee is concerned about the volume of water to be removed from the river. The location selected for the removal of the water (the North Prong of the river) is a historically low-flow area and monitoring data suggests that the proposed withdrawal amounts could periodically exceed the volume of total flow at the proposed withdrawal sites. Vague language in the permit application about suspending operations during low water periods does little to ameliorate this concern, especially in the absence of any metric for determining what constitutes low water.

From a water quality perspective, the Committee is especially troubled about the impacts of discharging this filtered water to the river body. The St. Marys River is a high-quality blackwater river with a naturally low pH. The dark color of the water comes from decaying peat and other vegetation that produce tannin, a naturally occurring, water-soluble organic compound. By filtering the water to remove the tannins, Miocene Holdings will be altering the fundamental characteristics of the river’s water. Discharging water treated to a regulatory pH level of 7 into a low-volume blackwater stream with a natural range of pH 3.8 – 4.2 would have significant negative impacts on the river’s ecological functions and native flora and fauna.

In addition, the proposed industrial filtration process could also further deplete dissolved oxygen levels in water being returned to a river system already naturally low in dissolved oxygen.

Finally, as the St. Marys River serves as the boundary between Georgia and Florida, the Committee believes that the approval of this permit inevitably invites another interstate conflict over the use of shared water resources. The water quality and quantity issues that would almost certainly occur as a result of the Miocene project will impact both sides of the river. County commissioners and Committee stakeholder representatives from both states are fielding a groundswell of community response to this proposal and the public comments are overwhelmingly negative.

Because of these concerns, the Committee is requesting that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division NOT issue a withdrawal permit to Miocene Holdings LLC.


Chip Campbell, Georgia Co-Chair

St. Marys River Management Committee



County Commission-School Board May 16 agendas

The school board’s agenda for Monday night can be found here. The meeting begins at 6:30 pm at Macclenny Elementary. The board is set to vote an abstinence-only sex education curriculum for 9th and 10th graders and the district’s new health insurance plan from United Healthcare.

And on the county commission’s agenda for the same evening, but starting at 5:00 pm:

• A recognition of Land Planning Agency members from Ed Preston, county planning director.

• Under persons wishing to appear are Pastor Randy Williams of First Baptist Church of Glen, and Brad Thoburn of the Regional Transportation Study Commission.

• County commissioners will consider bids for new and/or refurbished ambulances for Emergency Medical Services, and Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity for Liberty Ambulance and the county’s EMS department.

Summer’s Way Too Short Story Contest

The Baker County Press is inviting young writers to submit entries for its first “Summer’s Way Too Short Story Contest.”

One winning short story will be selected by the newspaper’s staff from each school level — elementary, middle and high school — for publication in The Press. The author of the best overall story will also win a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble.

Short stories may be fiction or nonfiction, but no more than 500 words, and writers must be students residing in Baker County, regardless of whether they attend home school, public or private school. The stories will be judged based on common story-telling pillars like plot, characters, setting and flow, but also grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Entries can be hand delivered to The Press office, 104 S. 5th St. in Macclenny, mailed to P.O. Box 598, Macclenny, FL 32063 or e-mailed to reporter@bakercountypress.com.

City Commission’s May 10 agenda




May 10, 2011 6:00 PM



 A. Recognition of Robert Fletcher, Freddie Bennett and Terry Starling for an outstanding job on the Lowder Street Corridor and for their help in facilitating the joint effort of the County and City to make this project a success.
B. Proclamation declaring May 2011 “Older Americans Month”.
C. Proclamation declaring May 14th Korean & Vietnam Veterans Appreciation Day.
D. Margaret McGauley and Sam Kitchings will be present to discuss what is going on at the YMCA.
E. Approval of Resolution #11-08: a resolution for a memorandum of agreement between the City of Macclenny and Florida Department of Transportation for sidewalks for safe routes to schools.
F. First Reading of Ordinance No. 11-06: an ordinance creating Section 13-98 Fund Raising Yard Sales.
G. The City of Macclenny is pursuing condemnation of a mobile home located at 55 Barber Road Lot 10 owned by Kelvin Manning.
H. The City of Macclenny is pursuing condemnation of a home located at 383 Jerry Circle owned by Yaseen Valliani.
I. The City of Macclenny is pursuing condemnation of a home located at 615 S. 9th Street.

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