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news & opinion OCT 5-11, 2011 | WWW.CONNECTSAVANNAH.COM

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Water under the bridge

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by Jim Morekis | jim@connectsavannah.com

This is the stinky season in Savannah: The time when the paper mill’s sulfurous odor becomes more prominent, either through an inversion effect brought on by cooler weather or, as the old–timers insist, because this is when International Paper secretly cranks up the output of its smokestacks. The past few days have seen a stinkier autumn kickoff than usual, and this year our water system seems to be the focus. A family member texted me over the weekend asking “Does your tap water smell like B.O.?” A walk downtown brought fetid odors climbing out of stormwater drains. A change in the weather? Or something else? Who knows anymore? We found out over the weekend that the harbor deepening plan which is to be the savior of the local economy — even though our port is already number two in exports in the country — will feature “solutions” to the environmental threat that a deepening will pose to the city drinking water supply. Mayor Johnson, a lame–duck executive in a city whose charter gives the mayor

almost no real power, says — and I paraphrase here — that, golly gee, he sure hopes the kindly feds will find a way to pay for the costly measure of moving our surfacewater treatment infrastructure further upstream to avoid the salt plume pushing upriver after the bottom is gouged out again. Keep in mind that no one disputes that another harbor deepening will have dire effects on the city drinking supply. The dispute is how far the Corps of Engineers and Georgia Ports Authority should go to offset those effects, and who will pay for it from which pot of taxpayer money. In other words, your drinking water — already compromised by saltwater intrusion from years of industrial overuse of the aquifer — is now being explicitly sacrificed

in the name of the port and its dubious guarantee of more jobs in the future (which even a Corps study says is unlikely). There are water problems all over. The other day State Sen. Buddy Carter penned an op–ed in the local daily professing shock and promising action in the wake of an embarrassingly puny million–dollar penalty on a textile plant for essentially turning a 40–mile stretch of the Ogeechee River into a junior Chernobyl. Interestingly, Sen. Carter forgot to mention that he and his party, which controls the entire state government, have devoted years to dismantling environmental regulation in Georgia. Well, bless his heart! If he were totally honest, Carter’s column would have ended like this: “It’s almost as if King America Finishing concluded they’d never be held accountable for their actions. And frankly, I’m shocked the penalty was as high as it was.” Just as long as you don’t blame Buddy. It’s that darn big government at fault. Not that anyone elected him to help run that big government or anything like that.... cs

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Urban forest is part of sustainability

Editor, Last week four candidates for the City’s alderman at large posts attended a forum sponsored by the Savannah Bicycle Campaign and the USGBC Savannah Branch. The forum’s theme was sustainability and transportation and discussion ensued for nearly 1.5 hours. “Sustainability” for Savannah is a complex puzzle with many pieces. Many hot topics were mentioned during the forum, including solar, wind and geothermal energy; electric, hybrid and natural gas fueled cars,

better bus & train options, bicycle routes and city-wide residential and commercial recycling. There were too few mentions of the first R in the trinity: Reduce, Reuse & Recycle. When will Savannah put a limit on what people can throw into those big green garbage bins? And no mention of trees. One reason that so many people come to see our beautiful city is for our tree lined streets, canopy filled parks and abundance of shade during the hot summer months. Without the vibrant and healthy urban forest made up of a variety of tree species, including our beloved Live oak and Magnolias, do you think

we could still have a strong tourism industry? Imagine: boulevard streets baking in the sun, historic district squares carpeted with just grass, and Forsyth and Daffin Parks without a shady bench. The Savannah Tree Foundation is proud of its past work with the City of Savannah and the Park & Tree Department to support our urban forest. Next month when this city elects a new mayor, and city council, let’s be sure our representatives know how important trees are to Savannah’s sustainability. •The Savannah Tree Foundation strongly urges that the City of Savannah plant as many trees

as it removes each year and continue to aspire to a 50 percent tree canopy cover. • We urge that a tree inventory is maintained by trained professionals to afford the city the benefits of this technology. • We recommend that any projects involving trees be conducted under the supervision of the Park and Tree department. The Savannah Tree Foundation applauds the department on developing the Forsyth Park Arboretum and for the research to find tree species suitable for our climate and the urban environment.

Karen Jenkins Director, Savannah Tree Foundation

Profile for Connect Savannah

Oct. 05, 2011 Connect Savannah Issue  

Featuring the true-history scares of Davenport House's Yellow Fever show and the Owens Thomas House pre-Halloween Victorian mourning exhibit...

Oct. 05, 2011 Connect Savannah Issue  

Featuring the true-history scares of Davenport House's Yellow Fever show and the Owens Thomas House pre-Halloween Victorian mourning exhibit...

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