From the River – by Haw Riverkeeper Emily Sutton
I participated in a PFAS symposium at NCSU in February. It was an audience of predominately academics in health research and risk communication, but also some community organizations and state water quality staff. The academic community is interested in holding community forums in impacted areas to answer questions from the public and communicate risk, rather than just producing data. Haw River Assembly is working with NCSU, Duke, and EPA to monitor surface and drinking water levels in the Haw watershed. The PFAS levels in the Haw are highest in low flow events, where the Haw is more effluent dominated. To see our data and presentations, click here. We are tracing sources and working with Southern Environmental Law Center, NCDEQ, NC Conservation Network, and local governments to recommend action to prevent these compounds from entering surface water. Pricey Harrison, Guilford representative, continues to propose and sponsor legislation aimed at addressing PFAS compounds. Unfortunately, the issue of PFAS compounds has not risen to the top of the state’s priority list yet. We are scheduled to meet with Representative Harrison in February and NCDEQ leadership in early March. Let your local and state officials and representatives know that you are concerned about this issue!
We are working to lobby local governments again this month- Graham/ Haw River/ Green Level/ Burlington/ Alamance/ Rockingham. Counties and municipalities with delegated stormwater programs (Alamance, Graham, Burlington) will have the authority over the stormwater permit for the MVP Southgate project. Alamance has signed a countywide resolution to oppose the project. If you live in these communities, contact your local elected officials and urge them to publicly oppose the pipeline project. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been delayed until May. When the EIS is released, we will need all of the help we can get to provide critical comments and feedback on that statement. MVP Southgate attorneys are beginning to pressure landowners to sign easement agreements. On February 17th, we learned that several people had received house visits and phone calls pressuring them to sign a twelve-page legal document. When the landowners requested a copy before the meeting, the MVP Southgate attorneys denied that request, stating that it must be handled in person. This one on one interaction puts landowners in a vulnerable situation. We are working with the NC Department of Justice to determine what protections landowners have against this pressure. We are working on paddle event for late April- Paddle Against the Pipeline. More information and event flyers to come soon.
Waters of the US Rule (WOTUS)
The EPA is proposing to gut clean water protections. For nearly 50 years, the Clean Water Act has provided essential protections to streams, rivers, and wetlands—and given state and local governments tools to keep our water clean. Politicians in Washington, DC, just proposed to gut 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. This proposal would eliminate crucial protections for many of our nation’s streams—critical to the South’s special natural resources, as well as a $130 billion tourism industry. Without these clean water protections, industrial operations, sewage treatment facilities, and other polluters may be able to directly dump into these waterways without any public notice, threatening drinking water supplies and harming families and communities. That’s why elected officials from both parties are working tirelessly to protect waters in the Southeast — but they need help, and time is running out. Visit our campaign website at http://hawriver.org/wotus/ to take action and find talking points to inform your comments, it will only take a minute. By sending comments here, we’re letting Washington know that we’re NOT ok with letting polluters contaminate the water our families, communities, and economies depend on.
Industrial Animal Operations (CAFOs)
The Animal Feeding Operation permits are up for renewal, which is an opportunity that only comes around every 5 years. This is the time to comment and encourage NCDEQ to require more transparency in the permitting process or swine, cattle, and wet poultry production. North Carolina’s industrial animal producers operate under a waste management permit from the state, which is revised and renewed in five-year cycles. To see our talking points, click here. Submit comments in person at the upcoming public meeting in Statesville on Feb 26, 6pm, or via email at by March 4th to one of the following emails.
Water Testing in Chatham County
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. Confidential water quality results will be mailed to residents’ homes. Study results will help develop a better understanding of private well water quality in your community. Test kits will be distributed at locations and dates specified below. Any resident or business using a private well is eligible to participate. There are a limited number of kits, so they will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Detailed sampling instructions will be provided. If you have questions about participating, please contact Andrew George at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-966-7839 or Kelsey Pieper at email@example.com or 518-928-0177. Pick up sampling kits Tuesday, March 5 from 3:30 – 8:30 pm // Drop off sampling kits Wednesday, March 6 from 6:00 – 9:00 am at Wesley Samuels Annex, 1915 Old US 1 Hwy, Moncure, NC 27559 or at Central Carolina Community College, Conference Room 2 (Building 42), 764 West Street, Pittsboro, NC 27312.