Support us

DonateNow Clean Water for North Carolina is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

Upcoming Events

April 22, 12:00 PM-5:00 PM, Durham Central Park, Earth Day Festival. Enjoy a day filled with an eclectic mix of music, food, hands-on environmental education activities and much more. Don’t forget to stop by the Clean Water for NC tent and say hi!

May 14, The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival kicks off their 40 Days of Action. Unite with tens of thousands of people across the country to challenge ecological devastation, systemic racism, poverty, and the nation’s distorted morality.

The Dangers of Bottled Water

Bill Rubin, Guest Author

In speaking with residents in low income areas, Clean Water for NC has sometimes found homes where the parents drank tap water, but they bought bottled water for their kids. They figured that although bottled water was more expensive, it must also be safer. You can understand why that family might think so, given a number of high profile water contamination cases in pubic water systems, including the lead contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan.

In reality, that family would most likely have been safer sticking to tap water. Why is bottled water less safe? First Ill tell you why bottled water is more vulnerable to contamination, and secondly, how it is tested less frequently.

Water bottlers generally test for fewer contaminants than local water systems do. Storage is a problem tooplasticizers and antimony from plastic bottles can leach into water during extended storage or when exposed to heat. A variety of bottled products are not even subject to national drinking water standards. This includes water bottled and sold within the same state, filtered water, and carbonated water.

What about monitoring? The EPA regulates the safety of your local tap water system, creating safe water standards for allowable levels of contaminants. The Food and Drug Administration regulates bottled water, in theory applying the EPAs same public water safety standards. But bottlers are required to test their water only once per year for physical and chemical contamination. Most residents public water is tested daily for large systems and quarterly for smaller systems.

If that low income family was concerned about safety, then bottled water was the wrong choice. Different bottled water brands have been recalled for health reasons dozens of times over the past several decades, but there are not always public notices. Unless your local water authority has issued a specific order about a drinking water problem in your system, its actually safest to stick to tap water.

Federal coal ash rule monitoring reveals high groundwater radioactivity at NC sites; EPA tries to slash requirements!

On March 2nd, the deadline passed for coal-fired power plants to post the results of their groundwater monitoring in an annual report that is required under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2015 coal combustion residuals (CCR) rule for storage and disposal of coal ash. The monitoring is required to determine the extent that the coal ash impoundments and landfills are contaminating groundwater. Concerning levels of radioactivity were found at 11 out of the 18 Duke Energy plants.

Among the highest was the Asheville Steam Station in Arden, NC at 38 times the federal radioactivity limit for drinking water. In addition to the alarming levels of radioactivity from radium, the results also showed that Duke Energy is contaminating groundwater with arsenic, lead, mercury, and many other toxic coal ash pollutants. Data in the 20,000 page annual report showed that the levels of toxic contamination often exceeded state and federal groundwater and drinking water standards in monitoring wells near many of Duke’s plants. The report provides irrefutable proof that the basins continue to leak and pollute neighboring groundwater supplies across the state.

Statewide Actions

Despite the staggering results from the annual reports, Duke Energy still plans to leave about 70% of its NC ash in the ground by capping it  in place. NC DEQ officials at the Division of Water Resource plan to review the data and compare it with background levels to determine if the contaminants could be naturally occurring.

Please call Governor Cooper at (919) 814-2000 and tell him to hold Duke Energy accountable for the results that show ongoing contamination at coal ash sites across the state. You can also email or call Jamie Kritzer, at DEQ Public Affairs, 919-707-8602Jamie.Kritzer@ncdenr.gov, with comments or questions regarding DEQ’s review of the groundwater data.

Federal Actions

In a deeply misguided effort, the EPA is proposing amendments to roll back the very rule that requires the groundwater sampling and release of this data! The 2015 CCR rule set a clear process with deadlines for utilities to assess groundwater conditions and potential human risks, to provide the public with timely data and information regarding those risks, and to take action to eliminate any unacceptable risks to the environment.

On March 1st, the EPA directly threatened impacted communities when Administrator Scott Pruitt signed the first of two rules that propose to amend the 2015 rule, saying the changes are expected to save industry between $32 million and $100 million per year.  EPA has proposed to revise the 2015 rule to allow coal ash to be used in the construction of cover systems for CCR units that are closed by capping the toxic waste in place. The EPA CCR decision is prioritizing industrial budgets over public health and the environment!

The EPA will accept written comments on the proposal through Regulations.gov under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OLEM-2017-0286 for 45 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, and it plans to hold a public hearing to receive additional feedback on the proposal. In a status report submitted in November to the U.S. Court of Appeals, EPA had committed to a 90-day public comment period on its proposed revisions to the 2015 coal ash rule, so EPA is reneging on this promise with a 45 day comment period. This is outrageous, as EPA’s proposal could be devastating to impacted communities living near coal ash basins or receiving coal ash in nearby landfills.

Thank you – your action could make a critical difference to protect NC’s groundwater and well users!

NC Seeks Public Input on Plans to Accelerate Draining of Coal Ash Basins

Comment on a consent agreement between Duke Energy and NC regulators!

The NC Division of Water Resources has released a draft “Special Order by Consent” or “SOC” for three Duke Energy power plants – Marshall (Catawba County), Allen (Gaston County) and Cliffside (Cleveland/Rutherford Counties). This agreement requires Duke to speed up the timeline for draining water from coal ash basins at these facilities – a necessary step to close them and should stop some of the ongoing leaking problems – but it also lets Duke off the hook for continued pollution of nearby waterways! Please consider attending the public hearing Feb. 13 at 6pm at the Warren Citizens Center in Lincolnton, or submitting written to: Bob Sledge, NC Division of Water Resources, 1617 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1617, or to publiccomments@ncdenr.gov.

Clean Water for NC’s concerns about the SOC include:

  • Seeps are not legal discharges and shouldn’t be permitted. These uncontrolled leaks from the coal ash basins into groundwater and surface water resulted in Duke pleading guilty to environmental crimes in 2015 and paying $102 million in fines, yet now, DWR wants to include the intentionally constructed seeps in the facilities’ discharge permits!
  • The one time penalty of $84,000 ($4,000 per seep for 21 seeps) is not adequate for the harms that have been caused to water quality near these coal ash basins!
  • The SOC does not impose any additional requirements for physical or chemical treatment of coal ash basin water before it’s dumped in nearby water bodies; in fact, it relaxes some water quality standards applicable to discharges.
  • While dewatering ash basins is a needed step, the real solution to fixing seeps is removing saturated coal ash from leaking ponds and putting it in dry, lined storage away from waterways.

Comment on a revision to the wastewater discharge permit for Marshall Steam Station

Marshall Steam Station

Marshall Steam Station

At the same time that the SOC would authorize Duke to expedite the closure of coal ash basins at Marshall, Allen, and Cliffside, a draft modification of the Marshall NPDES permit unjustifiably delays a requirement to install new pollution controls and eliminates a requirement for the large volumes of wastewater to undergo physical/chemical treatment before discharge. Future NPDES permit adjustments of a similar nature are expected for Cliffside and Allen, so this is a precedent-setting action with statewide implications!

Send written comments on the Marshall Permit by February 13 to: Sergei Chernikov, NC Division of Water Resources, 1617 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1617, or to publiccomments@ncdenr.gov (include “Marshall NPDES” in the subject line).

Click here to download detailed talking points about these two documents. Thanks for taking action!

One more chance to speak out against rate hikes for dirty energy

Tuesday, January 30, Charlotte
Charlotte Public Hearing, Mecklenburg County Courthouse, 832 E. 4th Street (directions)
Press conference at 6PM; Hearing begins at 6:30PM

Organizers are also planning a vigil at Duke Energy Headquarters at 5PM; then, vigil attendees will march to the courthouse. For more information, view the Facebook event.

Background: Duke Energy Carolinas is seeking approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission of a $647 million increase, raising residential electric rates by 16.7% or about $18.72 per month for a typical residential customer. Residential rates will go up more than industrial or commercial rates, putting the burden on North Carolina families. Duke wants its customers to pay for coal ash cleanup, construction of new fracked gas plants, and investments in a nuclear project in South Carolina that has been canceled!

Map of service areas

Service areas of Duke’s two subsidiaries; hearings this month are for the Duke Energy Carolinas subsidiary.


Resources to help you prepare for the hearing:

Can’t attend? You can send a written statement to statements@ncuc.net (include “Docket E-7 Sub 1146” in the subject line) or by mail to North Carolina Utilities Commission, 4325 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC, 27699-4300.