Advisers: What will it cost to fix May River?

astice@islandpacket.comDecember 14, 2011 

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A plan to restore the May River is missing a key component -- a price tag.

Members of a May River advisory committee on Tuesday discussed the cost of the plan adopted by the Bluffton Town Council last month and how it will kick off in 2012.

The May River Action Plan intends to restore shellfish harvesting to a four-mile stretch closed because of pollution and to prevent further degradation.

However, committee member Allen Ward of engineering firm Ward Edwards said leaders are "spinning their wheels" by discussing solutions without knowing the costs.

"You're not serious about solving the problem, like you're not serious about buying a car until you ask, 'What is the cost?' " Ward said.

The plan contains a long list of projects, policies and potential funding sources. Town stormwater director Ron Bullman said four or five projects will be presented to Town Council in January for approval.

Some of the suggestions -- such as a campaign urging residents to pick up after their pets and a program to fix failing septic tanks for free -- are already under way with a $1 million grant from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

But the grant is not enough to pay for all the plan's recommendations. One of the few cost estimates in the report is $4.25 million for retention ponds and ditches to prevent polluted stormwater from entering the river.

Bullman said the intent has always been to go after low-cost projects the town already has funding for. After studying the problem to see if the recommendations work, he said, the town will be able to "go after the big funding" offered through grants and federal programs.

Committee chairman Wes Jones directed the town's Stormwater Management Division, charged with carrying out the cleanup, to come up with cost estimates, which could include hiring more people.

The committee will reconvene in February to review the figures and discuss priorities.

Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/BlufftonBlogIP.

Related content

  1. Bluffton adopts May River action plan, Nov. 9, 2011
  2. Building rights transfers in Bluffton key to healthy river, environmentalists, officials say, Sept. 23, 2011
  3. May River action plan scrutinized, Aug. 30, 2011
  4. Restoration of May River proceeds, Aug. 31, 2011

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