Category Archives: decoy portfolio

Are Scientists Making Environmental Problems Worse?

The team at AEI Marketing recently took on the task of helping save the May River and one of the most surprising and disappointing issues we have found is the confusing commentary of scientists to the public. The science of the May River is long established. We find decade’s old references that are accurate, simple and understandable.

“The clearing of land for sprawling suburban development is directly linked to the impaired waterways because without enough natural land cover left intact to serve its filtering function, stormwater carries sediment and pollutants across impervious surfaces and directly into the rivers.” (Schueller & Holland, 2000).

What’s so hard about that?

Yet there is massive confusion being created by at least one local scientists over septic tanks.

Here’s the truth: About a decade ago, as part of an environmental restoration grant application, about 500 homes near the river were reported to have septic tanks. That number has not changed significantly in the last ten years, in part because most home construction since then have been connected to sewer systems rather than septic tanks.

Yet, we have an increasingly damaging problem with pollution entering the May River.

Again – “The clearing of land for sprawling suburban development is directly linked to the impaired waterways because without enough natural land cover left intact to serve its filtering function, stormwater carries sediment and pollutants across impervious surfaces and directly into the rivers.” (Schueller & Holland, 2000).

While efforts to provide sanitary sewers as broadly as possible are encouraging, these efforts can also divert attention from the leading cause of polluted runoff – poor planning and inappropriate development patterns leading to sprawl.

So, while the removal of septic tanks is a small part of the solution, it is not, in and of itself, the total solution. We need to focus on smarter land use. Without correcting our problems with suburban sprawl, we will not succeed.

Here is Dr. Eric W. Montie from USCB being quoted in the Bluffton Today “We have to make sure we go from septic to sewer. That’s No. 1, but we also have an issue with impervious surface and we really need to have a good land management plan and really maximize and restore forest and wetland habitats,” Montie said when asked for possible solutions Tuesday. This message is very unclear and misleading.

A few days later, we read a letter to the editor proclaiming septic tanks as the sole cause of the problems in the May River. We couldn’t help but think the commentary of a local scientist might be the root cause of the confusion.
Read more