The Georgia-Pacific (GP) paper mill in Palatka is unable to meet water quality standards in Rice Creek (a tributary of the St. Johns) where it currently discharges its wastewater.
So, what is the GP solution to this problem? They plan to employ the archaic "dilution is the solution to pollution" approach and build a 4-mile long pipeline that would bypass Rice Creek and discharge over 20 million gallons of wastewater a day into the middle of the St. Johns River. The dilution strategy is no longer an acceptable method of dealing with pollution.
Scientists and policymakers now understand the need to reduce and eliminate the discharge of pollution into our environment and waterways, not divert it to another location. More and more businesses are also coming to the realization that pollution is a by-product of inefficient manufacturing processes and use of resources. Unfortunately, our state environmental agencies and GP seem to be stuck in the past, though. Our river is already sick, and despite the millions of dollars spent on improvements over the last decade, GP's mill in Palatka is still one of the river's biggest polluters.
In fact, GP is the second largest source of nutrient pollution in the St. Johns. GP is certainly quick to remind us of all the good work it has done upgrading the mill. However, this is a facility that began operating in 1947. The mill was in need of major improvements to modernize the plant and remain competitive and to comply with a judge's ruling and current environmental standards. Based on GP's inability to meet water quality standards in Rice Creek, they clearly still have more work do.
The pipeline will only allow GP to avoid further capital investments that are necessary to meet water quality standards and to externalize the cost of its pollution on to the public. Simply put, the pipeline is not a solution. It does nothing to benefit the public or our St. Johns River. The only benefit that will result from the pipeline is to GP's bottom line.