My name is Patrick O’Masters. I am from Columbus, Ohio and have frequented the Bellville/Butler area for nearly two decades.
As a recreational gold prospector, my friends, family and I spend a great deal of time in the Clear Fork River in the stretch around and below the Cutnaw Road bridge. I stand in opposition to plans for a water treatment facility with its proposed discharge point into a small feeder creek just upstream of this section of the river. This proposed treatment plant discharge mixing zone (where pollutant concentration levels are typically allowed to be much higher than receiving water) is in a portion of the river which has long been a popular recreational area and poses a potential health threat to people and wildlife. On any given summer day dozens of people can be found swimming, trout fishing, or otherwise enjoying the river in an area which the owner of the surrounding land has long allowed users to enjoy. It is a scenic area with an unusual geology that attracts thousands of users each summer season.
I have witnessed an improvement in water quality judging by my steady increase in types of wildlife I have observed in the area. I have seen mink, river otter, and an increasing population of trout in both quantity and individual fish size. The local trout fishing club confirms my observation and condones our use of the river and our efforts of conservation. Following EPA and ODNR regulations and recommendations, the local chapter of the Gold Prospectors Association of America, which has been maintaining a mile-long stretch of the river for more than twenty years, has been removing litter and heavy metals from the area which has further improved the habitat.
The Clear Fork River in the proposed area is subject to wide swings in water volume. The modelling results to determine the possibility of violation of water quality standards (especially during times of low river volume when the dilution factor will be at it’s minimum), questions concerning the potential for PH alteration, residual chlorine levels and settling solids and their monitoring requirements (especially for peak discharge rates), spill plans and a description of what will be done in certain situations when a matrix effect is encountered need to be addressed in simple terms to the general public.
To my knowledge the current treatment plant discharges into a section of the river downstream from the proposed location where unusual discharge condition, including bypasses, upsets, and maintenance-related conditions affecting effluent quality will not impact the current use of this section of the river by recreational users. I am unaware of why the current plan has been proposed but should it be a matter that the current plant requires updating to conform to EPA standards, that project should be undertaken as opposed to building a new facility as is proposed.