Frequently Asked Questions

1.  What is the status of seagrasses near the mouth of the Fenholloway River?

Seagrass is being restored near the mouth of the Fenholloway River. Foley Cellulose made an investment of over $100 million in mill process improvements that resulted in a 54% color reduction in our treated effluent and seagrasses are returning.

It was determined in 1992 that the color of Foley Mill's treated effluent blocked some of the light that seagrasses need to grow in the Fenholloway River coastal waters. The color was caused by lignin from trees processed at the Foley Mill. Since then, the Foley Mill has invested over $100 million in plant improvements resulting in lighter-colored, more transparent effluent that has facilitated seagrass recovery. Foley Cellulose is committed to completing four additional improvements at a cost of $70-$100 million, resulting in Fenholloway River and coastal water quality standards being met. The improvements will support further seagrass growth throughout their natural range near the mouth of the Fenholloway.

2.  What is Foley Cellulose’s plan for improving the Fenholloway River?

Foley Cellulose’s process changes at the manufacturing mill have resulted in dramatic improvement in effluent quality. As of 2014, Foley Cellulose Mill has invested over $100 million in new technology at its manufacturing mill to restore the Fenholloway River. Foley Cellulose is committed to investing an additional $70-$100 million for improved brownstock washing on its #1 mill, phase 3 of its San Pedro Bay wetlands enhancement work, upgrade of its effluent treatment system, and relocation of the discharge point to complete the restoration.

Results as of 2014 include:

  • 54% reduction in color
  • 28% reduction in biological oxygen demand
  • 49% reduction in total suspended solids
  • 26% reduction in phosphorus
  • 25% reduction in nitrogen
  • 14% reduction in effluent volume

Once the remaining Fenholloway River Water Quality project is complete, the Fenholloway River will meet fishable-swimmable standards.

3.  What is the purpose of the proposed pipeline?

Foley Cellulose’s comprehensive restoration plan will improve the mill’s treated effluent quality, improve Fenholloway river water quality, and improve Fenholloway coastal water quality. Previous plant improvements have substantially reduced excess nutrients and color and, once completed, the remaining projects will result in further reductions in color, excess nutrients and oxygen demand. The primary reason for piping the discharge downstream is to move the treated effluent from the freshwater section of the river to the tidal portion of the river. This means the comprehensive plan will improve both the river and the Fenholloway coastal waters.

4.  What other options are available to improve the Fenholloway River?

The regulatory agencies and Foley Cellulose scientists and engineers have evaluated over 100 different technologies and have selected the combination of technologies that will restore the river to fishable-swimmable standards and reduce water color, supporting further seagrass growth in its natural range.