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  The Brunswick News       Commentary  (Editorial)                        Sept. 29, 2006  

Community action needed to save water

  Coastal Georgians have known for a long time that the Floridan Aquifer, the underground freshwater lake that is the source of their drinking water, is vulnerable to life above.
Saltwater intrusion occurs, for example, when water is pumped out of the Earth in heavy doses in areas like the city of Brunswick.

The U.S. Geological Survey and countless teamwork hours put in by city, county and state officials, as well as engineers from area industries, found a solution to the problem.
Their remedy was to stop heavy withdrawals from soft spots in the aquifer, places that create cones of depression that invite chlorides to seep into the drinking water. They searched for a way to correct the situation because of what the Floridan meant to the coast and the state.

Now, the community was recently warned, another threat is afoot. Metals such as mercury that were carelessly and recklessly discarded in marshes in the past are sinking lower into the mud and moving closer to the aquifer.

Experts have noted, however, that it is highly unlikely that any potentially lethal contaminants will make it inside the aquifer.

A hard outer covering makes the aquifer impermeable to mercury or anything else that might try to penetrate it.

Just to be sure, however, the federal government is working on a plan that will further ensure that dangerous outside elements never become a problem.

That sounds good in our book. However, given the severity of the crisis that would be engendered if contamination ever did occur, the community needs better assurance. We're talking about a life and death situation of not only people but of an entire community that depends on the aquifer for all its potable water needs.

There is no room for error.

What local government would be wise to do the city and the county is impanel a committee of its own experts to reevaluate and stay abreast of studies conducted by state and federal governments, just like they did on the matter of salt water intrusion.
It wouldn't hurt to have our own eyes on the progress or lack of progress of officials in Washington or Atlanta.

Brunswick and the Golden Isles have a vested interest, after all, in the condition of the aquifer today and in the future.


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