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Sunday, February 10, 2013 - 11:00pm

Group Seeks Ogeechee Study Funds

Even though officials already have chosen an institution to conduct water monitoring on East Georgia's Ogeechee River, a rival group is aiming to change their minds.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has yet to finalize an order that would give more than $700,000 to Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.

The money would come from King America Finishing, the Screven County textile mill where violations were discovered in the wake of a massive fish kill in the river two years ago.

The order would make Georgia Southern the institution responsible for studying the river.

But the order was delayed because EPD didn't schedule a public hearing.

Now the Augusta non-profit Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy is urging regulators to revisit the choice.

The group's Bob Young says his organization has a better proposal because it would monitor the river longer.

"We feel that a continuous monitoring program over an extended period of time would give the most benefit to the stakeholders in the Ogeechee River basic and to the regulators," Young says.

A Georgia Southern official couldn't comment on the Academy's proposal because he hadn't seen it.

University Vice President for Research and Economic Development Charles Patterson says Georgia Southern's study would take place over three years but could last longer.

"We would hope to be able to use the preliminary results from the study to leverage additional dollars, either state or federal," Patterson says. "This would become one our primary pursuits as a university."

A public hearing on the order is scheduled for March fifth.