Friends of Perdido Bay

10738 Lillian Highway

Pensacola, FL 32506


Tidings The Newsletter of the Friends of Perdido Bay

September 2004 Volume 17 Number 4 Jackie Lane -Editor

Water is terrible

In our earlier newsletter we had hoped that the water in Perdido Bay this summer would be clean enough for swimming, but this is not so. Several times this summer, we have seen foam and scum as bad as we have ever seen it. Other people have also reported very bad foam and scum. Many times the foam and scum is especially visible in the early morning when the bay is very calm. We know that this foam is not natural. It is the result of the pulp and paper making process. International Paper has to use foam suppression products to keep the foam from getting out of hand in their treatment process. Before discharging the effluent to Elevenmile Creek, there is a large foam suppression tower. So we know that most of the foam comes from the paper mill. There is a good chance that the slimy filaments that we see floating in the water on occasion also come from the paper mill. A lot of sulfur is used in the pulping process and certain bacteria which utilize sulfur for food make these same slimy filaments. The paper mill must periodically use slimicides to rid their pipes of the slime coatings which may end up in our bay.

Another bad sign that I have noticed this summer is the darkening of the bottom. Normally (even with the paper mill) the bottom should be a tan sand. But this summer the bottom has become covered with the dark deposits. The DEP has just turned a blind eye to our plight here on Perdido Bay.


Another bad sign is the high bacteria count found by Friends of Perdido Bay sampling (see our website for weekly counts). Based on a 1996 DEP study, one source of bacteria is probably the paper mill. Bacteria live in and use paper mill wastes for food. One bacteria associated with paper mill wastes is called Klebseilla and belongs to the family of bacteria which live in low oxygen areas rich in organic matter, like the intestines of warm-blooded animals. A description of Klebseilla is given in the authoritative reference, Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater, 20th edition.

"Klebsiella bacteria belong to the family Enterobacteriaceae and are included in the total coliform group. The outermost layer of Klebsiella bacteria consists of a large polysaccharide capsule, a characteristic that distinguishes this genus from most other bacteria in this family; this capsule provides some measure of protection from disinfectants. Klebsiella bacteria are commonly associated with coliform regrowth in large water supply distribution systems.

Klebsiellae may be opportunistic pathogens that can give rise to bacteremia, pneumonia, urinary tract, and several other types of human infection. Approximately 60 to 80% of all Klebsiella from feces and from clinical specimens are positive in the fecal coliform test and are Klebsiella pneumoniae.

Klebsiella bacteria also are widely distributed in nature, occurring in soil, water, grain, vegetation, etc. Wood pulp, paper mills, textile finishing plants, and sugar-cane processing operations contain large numbers of klebsiellae in their effluents (104 to 106), and Klebsiella sp. are often the predominant coliform in such effluents." Page 9-66.

This information about Klebsiella being present in paper mill effluents has been known by the environmental agencies for at least 20 years. In 1996, the Florida DEP did a bacteriological survey of the paper mill outfall and the upper portions of Elevenmile Creek. They sampled on two dates, a rainy date and on a dry weather date. Corroborating the above paragraph, DEP scientists found a total coliform count of 501,187 bacteria/100 mls of water and specifically a Klebsiella count of 77,460 bacteria/100 mls water at the paper mill outfall after a rain. Klebsiella will register as a total coliform in the total coliform test. In the dry weather sampling, total coliform had dropped to 2,692 bacteria/100 ml and Klebsiella count of 160 bacteria/100 mls of effluent. The total coliform count on both sampling dates violated the state (and federal) bacteria regulations (can only have a maximum of 2000 total coliforms/100 ml). Interestingly enough, it appears that sludge from the paper mill with which Klebsiella is associated, has accumulated in a pond impoundment beyond the testing point of paper mill. This impoundment continues to release sludge and Klebsiella even in dry weather, although at a reduced rate. The paper mill does not report the total coliform count to the environmental agencies, only the fecal coliform count. Last fall when Friends of Perdido Bay was allowed to sample the International Paper outfall, we found that they were violating the total coliform state standard. But no fines have been levied against the paper mill for these violations.

The bacteria counts which Friends of Perdido Bay has measured at two places in Perdido Bay (using volunteers) this summer also agrees with data that paper mill effluents are high in coliforms. Except for May when conditions were dry, fecal and total coliform counts have exceeded the recommended safe swimming level most of the summer. Because Klebsiella can register positive in the fecal coliform test, I expect many of these coliforms to be Klebsiella.

The obvious question is - "Why haven't our environmental agencies, warned us about this danger?" They have known about it. The answer is, in my opinion, - "Environmental agencies are not really protecting people". If the choice is industries or people, the environmental agencies will choose industries. The politicians, which in many cases are elected through large donations from industries and which fund the budgets of environmental agencies, will only write polite letters to the public and wait and hope the public gets tired. Friends of Perdido Bay has a file folder full of polite letters.

If you want to read the DEP's 1996 bacteriological study, go to our website, and then go to the Documents Page. The bacteriological study is the first document in that page. If you want to check Friends of Perdido Bay's weekly bacteria sampling, the bacteria report is also available on the website.

Candidates Views

While Friends of Perdido Bay (FPB) can not do any political lobbying, we can get the views of the candidates on issues dealing with Perdido Bay. This is what we did for the candidates who will be running in the Florida primary on August 31. We missed the Alabama primary, but we will send questions to the candidates in Alabama for the general election in November.

FPB sent the following questions to candidates for District 1 County Commission race, State House of Representatives District 2, and ECUA District 5. These are the districts and races which will concern most of our members in Florida. Here are the questions we asked:

1. Are you in favor of the IP/ECUA plan to pipe effluent to a site between the Perdido River and Eleven Mile Creek?

Yes, I am in favor of this plan No, I oppose this plan

2. If you answered "no" to the above question, what plan would you favor? ( Please write a short description )

3. Would you support allowing more domestic wastewater, than is currently discharged, to be discharged into Perdido Bay and its watershed?

Yes, I would support more discharge No, I would oppose more discharge

4. Would you oppose transferring wastewater from the Main Street Wastewater Treatment Plant to Perdido Bay and its watershed?

Yes, I would oppose transferring wastewater. No, I would not oppose transferring wastewater

5. Please list briefly, what improvements you would try to make to the Perdido Bay environment.

The candidates who did not return our questionnaire by August 10th were: Richard Pope (Please note: we received Mr. Pope's views on Aug. 20th) and Dave Murzin, both candidates for District 2 , State Representative; and Larry Walker running in ECUA District 5. Barry Tweedie, a candidate for ECUA District 5, said he had mailed his questionnaire but we had not received it at the time of writing We received it after the newsletter had been mailed out.

Candidates' Answers to our questions.

Question 1 - Yes, in favor of the plan: Mike Whitehead, Rita Lachney

No, oppose the plan: Dorothy Davis, J.E. Jones, Richard Pope, Wilson Robertson, Robert Tegenkamp, and Barry Tweedie

Question 2: What would be your plan?

Dorothy Davis - "I have yet to be convinced of a plan to pipe effluent that is completely safe. I've seen the Orlando/Winter Park area use treated wastewater effluent on golf courses very effectively. We need to come up with more creative ways to dispose of our effluent, and I am open to suggestions from you or other friends of our environment".

J.E. Jones - "That water should be held in tanks and re-used in the same day to day operations of the paper company."

Richard Pope - "Check our website"

Wilson Robertson - "Away from Perdido River and Eleven Mile Creek- Possible spray irrigation in other areas in the county away from our rivers and streams."

Robert Tegenkamp - "Since 2002, I have stated that a better location is more practical. But if my plan goes through, ECUA will pipe no effluent anywhere between Perdido River and 11Mile."

Barry Tweedie - "ECUA is borrowing all the money for both ECUA and IP from Florida DEP's revolving fund. The ECUA won't have enough customers to supply the plant for 20 years."

Question 3 - Would you support more domestic wastewater for Perdido Bay?

All candidates were opposed to more domestic wastewater.

Questions 4 - Would you oppose transferring wastewater from Main Street to Perdido Bay watershed?

All candidates, except Mr. Tweedie, said "Yes" they would oppose transferring wastewater. Mr. Tweedie said "transfering some wastewater to Bayou Marcus might be O.K. if it lessened the pressure to build the East Plant."

Question 5 - Improvements to Perdido Bay environment.

Dorothy Davis, County Commission District 1- "Planning, planning, planning...Any future growth needs to be well-planned and managed. We need to stick to zoning restrictions and resist granting variances. There are too many instances of getting around restrictions that are already in place. If we do not reserve some open space in the Perdido area, we will become another Orange Beach. The cap is currently set at 7150 units, which we are quickly approaching. One major condominium development could wipe this out. I understand that a 1900-unit is already in the planning stages. The current infrastructure will not support such a load."

J.E. Jones, County Commission District 1- "No untreated water discharge; stricter enforcement of EPA rules; more efficient monitoring of water quality; more efficient monitoring of sediment, installation of filtration for stormwater runoff."

Rita Lachney, ECUA Board District 5- "None, that is not in my district."

Wilson Robertson, County Commission District 1- "Extend sewer service to other areas and eliminate septic tanks and control International Paper's dumping into Eleven Mile Creek."

Robert Tegenkamp, ECUA Board District 5 - "Stop all runoff from any discharge. Put run off in controlled pond to seep back into the aquifer where it should go. It is my purpose to end all unnatural pollution in our county."

Barry Tweedie, ECUA Board District 5 - "The ECUA is not actually an environmental organization. That said ECUA must watch IP like a hawk! The ECUA will get the black eye if IP puts industrial wastewater down the pipe that violates their discharge permit. By that I mean the permit they have violated since the eighty's."

Mike Whitehead, County Commission District 1 - "1)Force ECUA to eliminate septic sustems near the bay. 2) Monitor the impact of fertilizers, etc. from surrounding land/yards. 3)Come up with a plan to return Per. Bay to a more acceptable status."

We want to thank all the candidates who responded to our questions. We want to encourage all people who are eligible to vote in the Florida primary, to do so. We will cover Baldwin County's general election candidates in the next issue next.

What has happened to Ester Johnson's lawsuit?

That is my question. Maybe some people have forgotten about the lawsuit, but I haven't. I am an Intervenor in the lawsuit. According to the Court docket sheet, the last papers filed in this case, were filed October 9, 2003. If nothing is filed for a year, the Court automatically dismisses the case in favor of the defendant; that is IP. The Levin Law Firm is now handling the case. It is hard to believe that such a prestigious law firm would intentionally allow this to happen. The Levin Law Firm recently sent out "interrogatories" to IP's attorneys. The interrogatories contain questions, and an entity may submit up to 30 questions according to the Rules of Court. In Ester's case, the Levin Firm only submitted 2 questions. These questions do not have to go through the Court, so they would not extend the deadline for dismissal. But, only two questions after 5 years in the Courts? Something is wrong.