Community Advocacy and Involvement: Community Leader Spotlight of Nicole Gaines

Written by Lucy Gray

Nicole Gaines

“I’ve done research and talked with other researchers when we go into communities and decide to ask questions and ask people about things to do and participate in. Once that research is done, we all leave – it is being recognized now that that causes more harm than anything… When we look at community organizing, you are organizing, and you are beginning with the people who are most affected. You are beginning with the people who live in those communities and they are living the harm, and you help them, or they help you figure out what’s best for us.”

Read the full blog here.

It’s long past time NC takes action on pollution from poultry

By Emily Sutton, Haw Riverkeeper

The unregulated poultry industry in North Carolina is burgeoning, with the number of chickens and turkeys increasing 17 percent in just the last 7 years to a total of more than 538 million. 

This is a problem for the state’s waterways because all those birds produce nearly 5 million tons of waste — and no one knows where it goes. 

Read the full blog post here.


In early August of 2020, NC DEQ denied the 401 permit, which is the permit necessary to cross streams. DEQ’s letter reads. “The uncertainty of the MVP Mainline Project’s completion presents a critical risk to the achievability of the fundamental purpose of MVP Southgate,” it continued. Read the full post for more info.


Isaiah Allen is the chef and a co-owner of The Eddy, a cozy pub tucked on the banks on the Haw River in Saxapahaw, N.C. The Eddy purchases almost every box of produce and side of meat from local farms that share its commitment to the area’s soil and water. Read Isaiah’s story about the farmer he met at the bar.


March 2020 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) updates straight from your Haw River Intern, Emily Williams. Read what amendments to NEPA would mean for the protection of your water quality and how you can comment against the attack on NEPA.


Politicians in Washington, DC, just proposed gutting the Clean Water Act, stripping away longstanding protections for streams, wetlands, and smaller waterways that feed drinking water sources for millions of people in the South. Read more about how you can take action to prevent this.


UNC Chapel Hill and Virginia Tech are offering free well water testing to any resident or business using a private well for indoor and outdoor use in Chatham County, NC or nearby areas. The samples will be analyzed for metals such as lead, arsenic, and chromium. Read for more details.

Omega and Brenda Wilson co-founded the West End Revitalization Association in 1994; since then, the community group has been a pillar of strength and hope in the Mebane community.
Overall, one of the things Mr. Wilson is most proud of are the collaborative partnerships WERA has developed. “A lot of people, when we started filing complaints, saw what we were doing as black against white – that’s not what we’re doing. It’s wrong against right.”
For more information about Mr. Wilson’s work with WERA, you can go to their website at https://www.wera-nc.org/.


Crystal Cavalier Keck of Mebane, NC, is a member of the Occoneechee Band of the Saponi Nation and is the founder of the Missing Murdered Indigenous Coalition of North Carolina. See what Crystal has to say about the intersection of these social justice issues with developing pipelines around the country in the full post.


River Updates straight from your Haw Riverkeeper, Emily Sutton. Read what’s going on with the local concerns surrounding PFAS and other industrial contaminates here, as well as how to stay involved in local watershed issues.


Environmentalists and concerned citizens alike are no strangers to plastic pollution; however, there seems to be another player in the game: microplastics. Read more about how microplastics are affecting water quality and how you can work with us to make the Haw plastics free!


February 2019 River Updates straight from your Haw Riverkeeper, Emily Sutton. Read what’s going on with MVP Southgate and the local concerns surrounding PFAS and other industrial contaminates here, as well as how to stay involved in local watershed issues.


The Animal Feeding Operation permits are up for renewal, which is an opportunity that only comes around every 5 years. Read more to see how you can comment and encourage NCDEQ to require more transparency in the permitting process for swine, cattle, and wet poultry production.