|The reduction of “submerged aquatic vegetation is one of our biggest challenges with water quality. SAVS are the best seafood restaurant on the coast. Over 150 fish and invertebrate species are known to use SAV as adults and juveniles. There is a cost of $88 million of loosing SAV in the next decade. It would take 3-5 times of the actual value, to replace SAVs. The State needs a water clarity standard to revert the loss of SAV.”
– Dr. Jud Kenworthy, Research Fisheries Biologist, NOAA (retired) and CCRW supporting member
Dr. Jess Jarvis, Associate Professor, UNCW, talked more about SAVs and the proposed NC Water Clarity Standard based on SAV light requirements, which is highlighted in the CHPP 2021 amendment SAV-RA-4.7, which recommends a water quality standard for light penetration for all SAV waterbody regions.
The recommendation sets the standard of:
Low Salinity: 13% to the deep edge (1.5 m)
High Salinity: 22% to the deep edge (1.7 m)
In July and September 2022, the Nutrient Criteria Development Plan Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) supported the adoption of the water quality standard.
What has happened with Water Quality since the CHPP was first written in 2004:
1. There is an overall decline in coastal water quality in North Carolina despite management efforts implemented for several decades to control sediment, nutrients, sediment, pathogens, and other pollutants. However, our state has made progress on reducing some forms of nitrogen, the most stimulatory nutrient for algal growth.
2. While some inorganic nitrogen loads have declined, recent water quality monitoring indicates that organic nitrogen is rising.
3. More intensive rainfall due to climate extremes exacerbates coastal water quality degradation by increasing surface runoff.
4. Rapid population growth is leading to more intensive urban and rural land use which changes watershed hydrology. This results in greater volumes and rates of surface runoff.
“Coastal habitat protection is vital for water quality. We were grateful to have the time to participate in this process and we hope that the actions and objectives go beyond words on paper.
Protecting water quality means making hard-decisions about how and where communities develop on the coast.
The flood doors on high-impact coastal development have been open for far too long. It’s no longer a question of how high-impact development impacts our coastal communities (ecology and economy). It is time for measurable change and reports that include a holistic view of our community’s return on investment for us all, not just those that profit short-term.
We need to slow-down the faucet and require smarter decisions based-on science to lead the way for the future of coastal living. It will take action from local governments and coastal decision-makers, who have had access to the CHPP since 2004, and action from coastal developers to prioritize science-based low-impact designs. It will take State DEQ offices to fill positions and use resources to enforce current regulations and the NGO stakeholders, like CCRW, to fill in gaps in service.”
– Lisa Rider, CCRW Executive Director
In addition to local level policies and practices, it will take local grassroots advocacy to fight for the protection of our remaining natural coastal heritage and habitat areas (JOIN US).