Jacob Oblander, SRK Outreach Coordinator
Ebenezer Creek has a held a special place in locals’ and visitors’ hearts for centuries. It has been the site of important events in American history, the site of an early colony, Civil War and Revolutionary battles. But this year a new kind of battle has been raging along the banks of Ebenezer Creek, a battle to protect this waterway and the community that cherishes it.
A plant was built in the Effingham Industrial Park by DRT America, a company which produces terpenes and other wood byproducts. They planned to send their wastewater to the City of Springfield’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. This wastewater would be added into the stream that is already discharged in the creek and a land application spray field adjacent to Ebenezer Creek.
When the permits for this and the Springfield wastewater treatment plant were first released, the public outcry was loud and unanimous: protect our creek and keep our communities safe. Savannah Riverkeeper was among those voices that spoke out about the risk and the damage this would put on Ebenezer Creek and to the City of Springfield. Working with other local groups such as the Georgia Conservancy and One Hundred Miles, we engaged in outreach with citizens, local government, and other stakeholders to unify our message.
From its establishment in Effingham County DRT America has made decisions that have put locals and this natural resource at risk. Before receiving any permits for discharge or air quality, a $43 million plant had already been built. An assumption of their right to operate and discharge their wastewater to a municipal treatment plant was obvious. Savannah Riverkeeper has made efforts to engage with the company to create an advisory board to start a conversation with the area citizens.
This summer, DRT America was found to have discharged a liquid through a manhole cover into the Springfiled Treatment Plant’s system, this discharge showed a dangerously high pH level for ebenezer Creek. There have also been incidents of such foul-smelling air coming from this plant that caused a local child with asthma to gag and vomit. These incidents show a dangerous disregard for the communities along Ebenezer Creek.
On Thursday November 16, the City Council of Springfield voted unanimously to reject the wastewater from DRT America, making the decision to protect the City of Springfield and Ebenezer Creek. Savannah Riverkeeper applauds the council for this decision.
But the challenges are not yet over. Savannah Riverkeeper will continue collaborating with City of Springfield and county officials on solutions for future and current wastewater to not be discharged to Ebenezer Creek. We believe there are better solutions, and that Ebenezer Creek is not a viable option for receiving industrial or municipal wastewater.
Victories for our waterways are possible when we join together! Help us in our efforts by joining Savannah Riverkeeper as a member or donating to support our work.
To keep up with this and other issues, subscribe to our e-newsletter using the form on your screen and follow us on Facebook!