Water Quality Stakeholders Work to Implement CHPP

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Water Quality Stakeholders Work to Implement CHPP

PHOTO: RIDER , 2022 – Slide from Kathy Rawls, Director, Division of Marine Fisheries, presented by Jacob Boyd, Chief, Habitat and Enhancement Section, NC Division of Marine Fisheries
On Wednesday, October 19, 2022, stakeholders from across the coastal region met in New Bern during the NC Coastal Water Quality Summit to move forward and implement the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan (first published in 2004).

Summit attendees were welcomed by a group of key stakeholders, including Mike Blanton, CCRW Industry Working Group Commercial Fisherman and Member of NC Marine Fisheries Commission. Commissioner Blanton talked about how water quality is “vitally important to these fisheries.” He added that systems are “obviously stressed” and highlighted concerns with harmful algae blooms at the coast. “When folks look-out there (on the water), they don’t see what’s truly happening.” At CCRW, we know this all too well. If you are not reviewing aerial images of waterbodies, it can be hard to locate water quality concerns such as harmful algae blooms, run off from coastal development and emerging contaminant pollution. Blanton also expressed the necessity for this programming to carry on “coastal heritage and economy.”

No matter what fishery we are talking about“, water quality makes a difference. “We all recognize the connections between clean water, clean coastal habitats, and fisheries.” – taken from Kathy Rawls, Director of Division of Marine Fisheries, notes and presented by Jacob Boyd, Chief, Habitat and Enhancement Section, NC Division of Marine Fisheries.

Click here to learn more about how water quality impacts coastal fisheries.

PHOTO: RIDER, 2022 – Dr. Jud Kenworthy, Research Fisheries Biologist, NOAA (retired)
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.

(SOURCE: Report)

“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).

PHOTO: RIDER, 2022 – Slide from Jacob Boyd, Chief, Habitat and Enhancement Section, NC Division of Marine Fisheries
For more info about local water quality information, please contact:

Riley Lewis,

White Oak Waterkeeper

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch


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