Month: February 2023

Advocacy in Action

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Advocacy In Action
Advocacy plays a major role in protecting the quality of water and quality of life in coastal NC.

Part of our work at CCRW, involves listening to and amplifying the voices of citizens in the White Oak River Basin.

Through advocacy, individuals are able to foster a sense of community and solidarity in protecting what they love – and our local advocates love clean water.

This month, CCRW is featuring a sample of action items (see below) that you can help us advocate for within your local community, within the State of North Carolina, and throughout the US.

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Environmental Justice:
Environmental and climate injustices are civil rights issues, in addition to water quality impacts.

In 1982, residents of Warren County, North Carolina, a predominantly Black community, organized protests to oppose the dumping of toxic material that would leak into their water supply, kickstarting the modern environmental justice movement.

Our work as a clean water advocacy organization is directly impacted as a result of systemic inequality and our work has evolved out of the need to protect the quality of water and life in underserved communities in the White Oak River Basin.

The concentration of harmful land uses, industry, and flooding that impact water quality is a product of these systemic forces; we must acknowledge and recognize this for our approaches and strategies to be successful.

For there to be positive, Statewide, systemic change in how our waterways and communities experience the environment, we must also engage in the systemic causes contributing to water quality issues in certain communities.

Advocacy Action Needed:

  • Urge decision-makers to codify DEQ’s existing authority to deny a permit if the cumulative impact, when coupled with existing environmental or health concerns, would cause a disproportionate, adverse impact on a community protected by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Volunteer to provide environmental justice advocacy in the White Oak River Basin. Sign up today.
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Land Use Pollution:
Advocacy Action Needed:

  • Urge your local government to:
    • Apply for funding to upgrade wastewater infrastructure.
    • Increase permitting fees to cover the expense of land use enforcement.
    • Enforce current local zoning and land use regulations.
    • Update current land use plans to reduce impacts to water, land, and air quality.
  • Urge NC Senators and Representatives to:
    • Move State water quality standards from fecal coliform to E.coli for all freshwaters– North Carolina is one of only four states that have yet to transition to E.coli as a pathogen indicator. EPA made this change in 1986. In March, 2022, the Environmental Management Commission committed to transitioning on an expedited timeline.
    • Phosphorous – Implement phosphorous-based agronomic land application rates for permitted CAFOs, including poultry operations and dry litter disposal deemed permitted by the State.
    • Increased funding for wastewater infrastructure upgrades – Federal funding has been allocated to states for distribution to local governments to upgrade infrastructure. Failing wastewater infrastructure is a main contributor to bacteria reaching our streams, particularly in urban areas.
    • Increase fines for water quality violations – Currently the fine structure for sanitary sewer spills, erosion and sediment violations, and other water quality violations is ineffective. Fines and civil penalties are rarely issued, and fines are often lower than the cost of effective solutions to the problem.
    • Incentivize Green Stormwater Infrastructure – Sediment and nutrient pollution will only increase as development increases. Green stormwater infrastructure provides an opportunity to focus on volume and velocity, water quality and quantity, which limits sediment and nutrient loads from development sites. This practice must be incentivized at the construction level in order to effectively and efficiently manage both construction and post construction stormwater.
    • Address Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) – Appoint an interagency task force to develop recommendations on defining, monitoring and responding to HABs and propose numeric criteria for nutrients, chlorophyll-a and cyanotoxins to reduce potential HABs. Provide state funding for cyanobacteria/HAB mitigation and removal strategies. READ MORE HERE.
    • Address Agricultural Land Clearing – Require best management practices for agricultural land clearing of more than 10 acres and require Erosion and Sediment Control Plans for agricultural land clearing adjacent to Outstanding Resource Waters, Trout Waters and Water Supply Watersheds.
    • Use of Municipal Stormwater Fees – Allow fees collected by municipal stormwater programs to be used for stormwater management and stream restoration projects on private land under long term agreements/conservation easements.
    • Stormwater Mitigation on Redevelopment Projects – Repeal or significantly amend Session Law 2018-145 Section 26 ( G.S. 143‑214.7(b2) and (b3)) to allow local governments the authority to require stormwater mitigation efforts on redevelopment projects if they so choose.
    • Public Notice for Approval of Erosion and Sediment Control Plans and Stormwater – Permits. Issuances of certificate of coverage for Erosion and Sediment Control Plans and post-construction stormwater management plans should require public notice.
  • North Carolina needs strong wetland protections to provide clean water to communities and lessen the impacts of flooding from extreme weather events. North Carolina has already lost more than 50% of our wetlands and those that remain are vital for absorbing stormwater and preventing flooding downstream, among the many other benefits they provide. The State’s Rules Review Commission has blocked permanent rules from taking effect that would protect millions of acres of wetlands that are vital to protecting homes, businesses and drinking water supplies. The legislature’s investment in wetland restoration and nature based resilience projects is extremely valuable. We now need the legislature to protect our existing wetlands and support the EMC rule that establishes a state permitting program to protect our wetlands and manage flooding in our communities.
  • Volunteers needed to document land use developments and report violations. Find our more by joining our Advocacy Work Group.
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Industrialized Farming Pollution:
Advocacy Action Needed:

  • Urge NC Senators and Representatives to:
    • Support Swine Floodplain BuyoutsREAD MORE HERE.
    • Stop CAFO and Biogas General Permits – they are up for renewal next year.
    • Fund DEQ properly, in order to enforce current regulations that protect water quality from these facilities.
    • Require Oversight of the Poultry Industry – The poultry industry in North Carolina has little regulation, which leads to unchecked amounts of nutrients and bacteria from these facilities polluting our state’s waterways.
    • Enact a Poultry Study Bill – to understand the impacts of poultry waste on our state waterways.
    • Require Animal Agriculture Resilience Planning –to remove facilities within the 100 year floodplain and prevent new construction of facilities within the 500 year floodplain.
    • Require Nutrient Waste Utilization Plans – to be submitted to DEQ for approval and prohibit land application of poultry waste within 100 ft of surface waters.
    • Fund Support Farmers:
      • Increase Funding for Soil and Water Cost-Share Programs – The Agricultural Cost Share Program typically receives as much as $20 million in requests for $4 million in annual funding statewide. We recommend doubling that to meet demand. ($8 million recurring)
      • Livestock exclusion from waterways – We suggest establishing a fund of $1 million recurring annually to help farmers install livestock exclusion fencing and alternative water sources. ($1 million recurring)
  • Outreach and canvassing in impacted neighborhoods – volunteer here.
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PFAS Pollution:
Despite serious health risks, there are currently no universal, science-based limits on the various PFAS chemicals in the United States.

For many PFAS chemicals, the EPA has not even set a health advisory limit that would give the public a baseline to determine what amount of PFAS is unhealthy in drinking water. In most cases, the EPA is not doing adequate monitoring for these chemicals, which is why these findings are so unique and important. READ MORE HERE.

Advocacy Action Needed:

  • EPA Director, Michael Regan, has committed $2B in grant money for small rural drinking water systems, in NC, to treat where PFAS and other emerging contaminants are a problem. Help your local community apply for funds. Many small rural local governments lack the staff and resources to manage federal grants, you might be a valuable resource to them in assisting with application processes. Join our Advocacy Work Group to learn more and get involved.
  • Want to support additional PFAS sampling in coastal NC, collaborative community-based advocacy and outreach efforts? Click to donate today.
  • Urge decision-makers to direct NCDEQ to exercise already existing authority under federal and state laws to immediately require all NPDES dischargers sending effluent into drinking water supplies to:
    • Disclose all emerging contaminants in effluent.
    • Require in NPDES permits, Technology-Based Effluent Limitations (TBELs) on all discharges of PFAS or 1,4 dioxane.
    • Require in NPDES permits that TBELs be applied at the pretreatment level in order to prevent compounds from being concentrated in biosolids.
    • Require ongoing monitoring of biosolids to ensure no land application exceeds limitations
  • Your support can help turn PFAS legislation into a reality. Contact your Members of Congress today in support of this urgently needed legislation.
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Plastic Pollution:
Advocacy Action Needed:

We Need You!

Take action in your community. Join our team of local coastal advocates.

BECOME AN ADVOCATE
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Please consider being a part of the Waterkeeper Admiral Club with your sustaining donation of $1,000 or more.

Your donation goes directly to programming that protects the quality of water and quality of life in coastal North Carolina.

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Forever Chemicals Around the White Oak River Basin

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Forever Chemicals Around the

White Oak River Basin:

Sampling Results

PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS are a group of chemicals that have been widely used in manufacturing since the 1940s. They are commonly found in water/grease-resistant products such as non-stick cookware, food wrappers, household products, and clothing, as well as in fire-fighting foams, and industrial processes.

PFAS are known as a “forever chemical” because they do not break down in the environment. They can travel through air, soil, surface water, and groundwater, and can accumulate in people, wildlife, and aquatic life.

According to the EPA, health complications associated with PFAS exposure can include cancer, liver and kidney disease, reproductive issues, immunodeficiencies, and hormonal disruptions.

Learn more about how PFAS and other industrial pollution impacts local water quality and fisheries by clicking here.

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DIAGRAM: Southern Environmental Law Center, PFAS cycle in the environment.
As part of a project with other Waterkeepers throughout North and South Carolina, CCRW collected 6 surface water samples from the White Oak, New, Newport, and North rivers in the White Oak River Basin.

We worked with our partners at Cyclopure to test these samples for different types of PFAS. Below are all the sampling locations and what was found in the water. (The number corresponds to the map below).

1) Upstream of USAS New River in the SW Creek

6 types of PFAS found

2) Downstream of USAS New River in the SW Creek

6 types of PFAS found

3) Downstream of Bogue Airfield in Bouge Sound, across from Emerald Isle

4 types of PFAS found

4) Downstream of Onslow Landfill in the Blue Creek that runs through the City of Jacksonville

7 types of PFAS found

5) Downstream of the Newport Wastewater Treatment Plant outfall in Calico Creek

1 type of PFAS found

6) Directly from the Beaufort Wastewater Treatment Plant outfall in Taylors Creek, across from Carrot Island

6 types of PFAS found

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MAP: Google Earth, PFAS sampling locations, 2022
Based on this sampling in 2022, the results show that there are detectable levels of PFAS in the surface waters around the White Oak River Basin. The levels are relatively low compared to other places in the State, however every location found some PFAS above the EPA and State Health Advisory standards.

This is a sign that the state of NC must create stronger PFAS regulations and find ways to remove the chemicals from the environment. Our work at CCRW helps to identify these ares of concern and motivate legislators to take action to protect water quality.

If you would like to see the full lab results, please request them via email: RileyL@coastalcarolinariverwatch.org

Spread the love!

This Valentine’s Day, show your support for your rivers by donating to CCRW and funding our water quality work.

CLICK IF YOU LOVE WATER QUALITY!
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Please consider being a part of the Waterkeeper Admiral Club with your sustaining donation of $1,000 or more.

Your donation goes directly to programming that protects the quality of water and quality of life in coastal North Carolina.

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Business Members

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Gold

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Business Members

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Become a Business Member Today!
Coastal Carolina Riverwatch

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