WASHINGTON, BEAUFORT COUNTY - A quarry operator is hearing from the public as it seeks permission to withdraw 12 million gallons of water a day from a crucial coastal collection of underground fresh water.
The state Division of Water Resources holds a public hearing Tuesday evening on a water withdrawal permit Martin Marietta Materials needs to remove water from its quarry in Craven County.
The permit is needed for any operation in a 15-county area of the state's coastal plain that wants to pull more than 100,000 gallons of water per day from the region's aquifers.
Raleigh-based Martin Marietta wants to develop a 650-acre open pit mine for crushed limestone used in road building.
Officials from the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation are worried about the effects the water being dumped into the river would have on the environment. "The nature of this creek is also slow moving and were talking about dumping up to 12 millions gallons into a pretty small tributary," said Harrison Marks of the Pamlico Tar-River Foundation.
Marks says the water that could be dumped would have a different pH balance than the water already in the rivers. He says when you change the pH balance, you change what lives there. "Fish go back to familiar waters so this may not feel like familiar waters to them any longer," said Marks.
Marks is worried about one species in particular. He says herring are a vital part of the ecosystem and economy in the area. "Herring are frequenting Blounts creek and we would certainly like to see that continue they're an important fish both for commercial and for game fishermen," he said.
The meeting will be held at Beaufort Community College's Building 8 on July 30th at 6:00 p.m.