Summer Fun and Safety on the Haw

Summer is a great time to get out on the Haw River and have fun wading, tubing and paddling. There’s something for everyone who likes to paddle on this river – with flat water behind old mill dams to easy whitewater, and the  more challenging rapids in the lower river in Chatham before it meets  Jordan Lake. But please know that the Haw can be a very dangerous river in high water.  Read the “Caution to Paddlers” about safe river heights on our Recreation page , as well as information on guided trips, rentals and other resources to help you plan a paddling adventure.  Also – stay out of the water if you see an active algae bloom or fish kill and report it to us.   For more information about water quality and recreation on the Haw read “How Healthy is the Haw?”  by the Haw Riverkeeper. Stay safe and have fun!

paddling image FHO  SaxapahawHawMonitoring-20060708-19-co  April 09 upper bynum res. rapids

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Jordan Lake Solarbees Will Be Removed - But What Next?

General Assembly continues to delay Jordan Lake rules

The state environmental department announced on May 5  that it will discontinue the SolarBee project after 21 months of data indicated no significant improvement in water quality.  We applaud the end to this expensive and ridiculous folly.   The latest bad idea that emerged this summer from the NC General Assembly was to study the use of mussels to filter the waters of Jordan Lake – even though mussel populations have plummeted in the Haw River due to pollution and sediment.  That idea has vanished only to be replaced by more delays of the rules and more wasted money on studies on how to find a magical solution to treat pollution in the lake instead of reducing it at the source.  The legislature needs to stop stalling and just re-instate the rules that will improve water quality in Jordan Lake.

Solarbees  sunset heron h2


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1,4-Dioxane in Haw River

And in Pittsboro’s Drinking Water

View the Powerpoint presentation given by Dr. Detlef Knappe from NCSU Pittsboro Town Board on Sept. 28 Dr. Detlef Knappe of NC State University presented his research concerning the presence of 1,4-Dioxane, an industrial solvent, in Pittsboro’s drinking water, which uses the Haw River as its source. Current treatment methods are not sufficient to remove this contaminant, which could have long-term risk factors.  Dr. Knappe  discussed  what is known to date about the possible upriver source of this chemical.  He made a  second presentation with some updates to the Chatham Conservation Partnership on January 21, 2016.  That presentation can be viewed here.

Major conclusions of Dr.Detlef’s presentations are:

•In the Cape Fear River watershed, multiple sources
of 1,4-dioxane exist in the uppermost reaches of
the watershed
•Elevated 1,4-dioxane concentrations detected in
almost the entire Cape Fear watershed
•1,4-dioxane concentrations at Pittsboro:
–Source water (Oct. 14 – Aug. 15): 16.3 μg/L  (avg.),        66μg/L (max.)
–Finished water (March 15 – April 15): 6.8 μg/L (avg.),  20μg/L (max.)
No measurable removal of 1,4-dioxane in water treatment plant (March 15 – April 15)

You can also view a National Science Foundation video on Dr. Knappe’s research on 1,4-Dioxane in the Haw River at http://www.nsf.gov/…/science_nation/capefearwatershed.jsp     Read a 2014 EPA factsheet about 1,4-Dioxane online.at the EPA website.

We are concerned not only about this chemical but what other industrial contaminants may also be in the Haw River, and in Pittsboro’s drinking water.

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Sludge in Our Waters

“Sludge In Our Waters” is a new report that investigates how industrial chemicals in some municipal wastewater sewage sludge applied to farmland are contaminating surface waters in North Carolina.  Drinking water sources downstream from these sludge fields are at risk.  Case studies in Chatham, Orange and Mecklenberg counties document this problem.

Sludge in our Waters

Elaine Chiosso, Haw Riverkeeper and Sam Perkins, Catawba Riverkeeper are the co-authors.  Accompanying the report is a new mapping tool that shows locations of permitted sludge fields in North Carolina; the map also has an overlay of river basins and other features. The report is intended to inform the public and policy makers about the potential pathways to human and environmental contamination from sludge applications,with recommendations for changing our current practices.

Read the Press Release here.


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Haw River Assembly Wins Injunction on Fracking Permits by North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission

May 20 , 2015    Wake County Superior Court today stayed a constitutional challenge to the state’s Mining and Energy Commission by the Haw River Assembly and a Lee County landowner pending a decision in the appeal of McCrory v. Berger or until further order of the court. During the stay, the MEC is enjoined from accepting or processing permit applications for drilling units and from creating any drilling units. This effectively reinstates the moratorium on fracking in North Carolina.  Read the full PRESS RELEASE about the injunction. Read the full Haw River v. MEC court order.

The lawsuit against the MEC charges that the commission violates the separation of powers provision of the North Carolina Constitution because a majority of the commission’s members are political appointees by the legislature, and that the fracking rules, created by an unconstitutional commission, are therefore null and void. (Read the  press release concerning the lawsuit and the full  legal complaint)

“Today’s decision stopped any immediate harm to North Carolina residents from a commission formed by the state legislature in violation of the separation of powers firmly established in our state constitution pending further court deliberations,” said John Suttles, the senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center who represented the Haw River Assembly and Lee County property owner Keely Wood Puricz before the court.


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