But did one really hear the other day, at the big meeting of water-quality professionals in Rome:
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed so we don’t have to shut down Inland.”
“Shut down Inland”!? That is the largest industrial employer left standing in Greater Rome, with likely the highest hourly wages, and its employees — our neighbors — have enough crinkled foreheads from doubt lines because of a recent new owner, International Paper, with an as-yet-unproven track record of local intentions. Not to mention the paperboard operation also supports a huge pulpwood/tree farm sector of the local economy. Which means the poor chamber of commerce just got handed even more to worry about.
That was Elizabeth Booth of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division speaking regarding new regulations coming down the regulatory current for the Coosa River to help Alabama’s Weiss Lake.
ALSO MENTIONED were more possible troubles and costs for Plant Hammond, which supplies most of the electricity for these parts, and expensive new technology for Rome’s wastewater treatment plant which, for those who don’t know it, is already far more sophisticated thanks to local water-user investments than most others found in the state. Rome never sat around putting off what had to be done and then pleaded for time extensions like Atlanta.
Indeed, Inland and Georgia Power and Rome water/sewer have already invested literally hundreds of millions of dollars in protecting/purifying water/air passing through.
The environmentalists are right about all this — “There are a lot of moving parts” affecting the Greater Rome and statewide situations. So why does disabling one part in Rome seem a way to keep the engine going ... elsewhere?
Agricultural fertilizer runoff, human and livestock toilet habits, manmade lakes showing their age and inability to handle the nutrient load from the runoff rains bring and so forth are all “moving parts” as well. They’re everywhere.
Floyd County business and ratepayer interests (water/sewer processing is not part of “taxes”) should start to get really irritated when stuff like “close Inland” gets mentioned as an option. After all, banning human habitation would work just as well.
THIS SORT of a “solution” is not deserved here. Greater Rome overall, private and public, has been a very good steward of the environment and particularly so when considering most of the problems it spends huge amounts to remedy it did not cause.
This region sort of reminds one of the battered wife who keeps a tidy house but gets kicked around every time her upstream husband has a bad day at the office and spills yet more carpet dye rinse water on the riverbottom floor. And so forth.
It’s no secret that most pollution — water and air — arrives in Floyd County from elsewhere. And then becomes “our” problem. Perhaps Greater Rome has been too nice about this, just as the battered wife who doesn’t blow the whistle can be sure she’ll keep being abused.
Weiss Lake is a particularly good example of how Greater Rome is paying for somebody else’s mistake. Weiss is manmade and adds many positive things to the region — but other people made this problem in the days when nobody was scaring them about pollution bogeymen.
WEISS IS SIMPLY too shallow (10-foot average depth) and much of it might be better called “deep swamp” than “nice lake.” Because it actually holds little water, its ability to dilute “bad things” is rather minimal.
And, reflecting Hammond’s problem based on temperature of the river water returned after used to cool the coal-fired plant, shallow water gets warmer under the sun than does deep water. The average depth of Lake Lanier, in contrast, is 60 feet.
Upstream and downstream, to considerable extent Romans are paying for the mistakes and/or bad practices of other people.
That’s not to imply perfection on our part. There’s plenty left to do on our turf, particularly as regards the known remaining big concern involving bunches of smaller polluters (who total up to a big deal) and those with discharge “licenses” who aren’t as careful as they should be.
Indeed, every time environmentalists in the pay of governments congregate to discuss this it is hard not to think about what they really ought to be doing more of instead of all that discussion and studying and planning and paper pushing.
THEY ALL mean well and are good, dedicated folks in large part but particularly now, when they’ve suffered all sorts of manpower losses due to budget cuts, it is hard not to wonder: Instead of sitting there, scaring us about dire consequences looming that are mostly not going to be the fault of the locals affected, how’s about pulling on jeans and waterproof hiking boots and spending that time patrolling river and creek banks writing “tickets” or however such stuff is policed?
To considerable extent, and for many years now with huge amounts of dollars, Floyd County’s citizens and business interests have been cleaning up the messes largely made by others.
Time for somebody other than the dutiful wife to get down on hands and knees to soak up the mess left by those who missed civilization’s toilet bowl. Time to show a bit more appreciation for her having washed the dishes and clothes dirtied by others for all those years.