The Belfast Planning Board hearings and the Board of Environmental Protection Permitting Hearings for the Nordic Aquafarms proposed project are underway. There are two issues that rise to the highest level of concern for Planning Board, the BEP, and the Intervenors who are attending. Those are water use and discharge.
In their Discharge Permit Application, Nordic anticipates a daily outflow of 7.7 million gallons of brackish water into the Bay. The water would be 2/3 salt, 1/3 fresh, and range from 3-12 degrees warmer than the receiving water.
The mouth of the outflow pipe would be 2/3 mile out, in 32 feet of water, directly in line with Bayside Village and Lincolnville Beach.
In Nordic’s dispersal modeling, they estimate it takes two weeks on average for discharge to move out of the Bay to deep ocean currents. This means there could be in excess of 1 billion gallons of discharge collecting near the outflow at any given time.
Nordic expects their filtration to remove 99% of particulate matter and 86% of soluble nitrogen. However, their anticipated particulate density after filtration is higher than what we currently have in the Bay.
The 14% of the soluble nitrogen that they cannot filter amounts to 1,600 lbs per day. On an average day, the Belfast Water Treatment plant discharges between 100-130 lbs of soluble nitrogen. NAF would be discharging 12-16 times more nitrogen than the City of Belfast.
Nordic also anticipates discharging 6 pounds of phosphorous daily. Although I don’t have a comparison for this, phosphorous is typically measured in grams or ounces, not pounds. It has serious negative impacts on water quality.
Putting aside discussions about reduction of taxes and numbers of jobs, it seems clear that many of us, regulators included, share serious concerns about the proposed Nordic Aquafarms discharge.
Ellie Daniels lives in Belfast