The municipal and public officials in Beaufort/Jasper, South Carolina (SC) and Effingham/Chatham, Georgia (GA) counties in the lower Savannah River Basin (LSRB) are faced with a dilemma of supplying potable water on an equitable basis to their communities from the surface and groundwater that has been partially polluted and/or is not sustainable. State regulatory agencies have implemented strategies to protect the regional water resources from further degradation of ecosystems, but these remedies are not addressing a crucial issue. The potable water issue is more critical than simply affecting to protect the local ecosystem. Hence, the thesis question is:
Can current strategies, by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) and the Georgia Environmental Division (GAEPD), secure potable water sources from the lower Savannah River Basin in the region, potentially provide effective, efficient, and equitable results?
Economic development and demographic changes have equally impacted the surface and groundwater. Groundwater was the primary source of potable water in predevelopment (prior to industrial revolution) and even post development era, but gradually became unsustainable. The alternative surface water source has also been polluted by the industrial and domestic wastewater treatment plant discharges. Surface water contains natural organic compounds, and even that has been overwhelmed by the added pollutants in wastewater treatment plant effluent. This has further increased formation of potential carcinogenic disinfection and disinfection byproducts in potable water. The carcinogen removal process has become expensive, but the potential risk for contamination remains problematic.
To answer the research question, interviews and surveys were conducted. The population for this research consists of municipal and public officials and water treatment professionals. The samples were selected due to their expertise and responsibility to supply safe drinking water to their communities. Collected data analyzed using Microsfot Excel to arrange in matrixes, and explained in simple narratives. The results were summarized and recommendations were made.
Most of the subjects agreed that water resources are not sustainable at current usage rate in the region. Groundwater is not sustainable and surface water quality has deteriorated due to organic pollutants in the industrial and domestic wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents. The cost of producing safe drinking water from partially or potentially polluted surface water is higher than the cost of processing groundwater. The cost of desalination of seawater or brackish well water is even higher than ground or surface water treatment.
Seawater desalination is not a cost effective option now. However, conflicting interests regarding the switch over to seawater desalination as long as surface water treatment operating cost remains lower than the seawater desalination, surface water will remain a sustainable source.
Although seawater desalination is a more sustainable strategy to produce potable water in the Low Country Region. Surface water treatment is less expensive and in turn, local professionals view it as the best option. This I believe is a limited short term viewpoint, which does not address longterm sustainability issues. Efforts regulatory agencies and utilities, to produce safe drinking water from surface water will continue in the Lower Savannah River Basin (LSRB).
|Commitee:||Pride, Carol, Rukmana, Deden|
|School:||Savannah State University|
|Department:||Urban Studies and Planning Program|
|School Location:||United States -- Georgia|
|Source:||MAI 51/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Environmental Justice, Environmental science, Urban planning|
|Keywords:||Environmental health, Environmental justice, Environmental planning, Sustainability, Water resouces, Water treatment|
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