For years, residents and tourists have wondered what is flowing out the outfall pipe that dumps Georgia Pacific treated wastewater into the ocean a half mile off Nye Beach. According to state environmental protection officials, GP’s outfall is being run legally and within scientifically defined limits. But there are many who don’t hold much faith in such a statement. Hence, the commitment by the Newport City Council to charge GP a franchise fee, the proceeds from which are funding an independent survey of what’s in GP’s effluent and what effects, if any, the wastewater flume is having on fish and habitat for porpoise, whales, seals, sea lions and other sea going critters.
The council appointed task force, charged with oversight of the investigation, reported to the council Monday that they are close to agreeing on a specific description of how the work should proceed. The task force indicated that the next step appears to be a final draft of a request for proposals aimed at scientific researchers as well as private survey companies. The task force said some applicants might be expecting the city of Newport to come up with all the money, while others might leverage what funding the city provides with other federal, state or private foundation grants to ensure there is enough money to determine just what is coming out of the outfall and its effects on the ocean environment off Newport.
The council decided to send the task force’s RFP ideas to the city attorney for review and comment. After that, the proposal could go out for bid early next year. The winning applicant(s) would be expected to begin their survey of the outfall in late Spring. It’s not yet known precisely how the survey would be conducted, since the original idea was to see what the outfall was doing to the sea floor, fish and mammals over a certain time line. All that has yet to be worked out. But councilors seemed confident that a solid way forward would materialize over the next six to eight weeks.