• NEW REPORT: A Pandemic’s Impact: Utility Disconnections, Evictions & Houselessness

    Clean Water for NC has been involved in advocating for low-income North Carolinians against utility rate increases for years, and we saw new concerns emerge with COVID’s significant financial hardship for many families nationally and in North Carolina. Staff, along with volunteer Lee Barnes, explored the nuances and impacts of the pandemic on utility insecurity, eviction insecurity, and houselessness in the U.S., and specifically North Carolina, during COVID-19.  Read the Report: "A Pandemic's Impact" The Utility and eviction moratoria are discussed in the context of race and class, especially considering access to utilities and reasonably priced rent before the pandemic as compared to during. The nature of utility shut-offs and why utility access is so important during a pandemic is covered in some detail, and there is discussion of private vs. public water utilities. We examine types of evictions and the legal nature of these evictions, along with the geographic patterns of evictions in the United States. The emotional, financial, and medical impacts of houselessness on Americans, especially during the pandemic, and especially during the climate crisis, are explored, as well as their racial context. We also include resources and highlight organizations providing assistance.  Clean Water for NC aims to demonstrate our commitment to holistically considering the issues facing underserved communities. We hope state policies better protect BIPOC communities facing water disconnections, higher rates of eviction, and unhoused status. Read the Report: "A Pandemic's Impact"


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  • Is your well water safe to drink? New resource from UNC-Chapel Hill, partners can help you decide

    Is your well water safe to drink? New resource from UNC-Chapel Hill, partners can help you decide Story by: Andrew George, Community Engagement Coordinator | UNC Institute for the Environment Press contact: Emily Williams, Director of Community and University Relations | UNC Institute for the Environment,  emilywilliams@unc.edu, (919) 962-0965 People who rely on private well water in North Carolina have a better chance of learning whether their well water is safe to drink thanks to an initiative of the UNC School of Law Well Water Pro Bono Project, the UNC Superfund Research Program (UNC SRP), the environmental non-profit Clean Water for North Carolina (CWFNC), NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS), Division of Public Health, Private Well and Health Program, and the NC Real Estate Commission. The team is engaged in a collaborative effort to provide North Carolinians with information they need to assess the safety of their well water. In October 2021, law students partnered with the NC Real Estate Commission to publish a brochure describing common well water contaminants, how to test for them, and resources for removing them when present. With UNC SRP and CWFNC, the team designed the brochure to inform realtors, property owners, and home buyers about the need for regular well testing as well as how to test well water and opportunities to reduce the cost of testing. An estimated 2.5 million people in NC rely on private wells for their drinking water. Although the state has the fifth largest population of well users in the country, drinking water from private wells is not regulated by state or federal agencies. As a result, most well water is not tested. Many contaminants cannot be tasted, smelled, or seen, making well testing the only way to know if contaminants are present and vital to protecting health or property. “North Carolina does not require real estate transactions to include a well water test, unless there is a known contaminant that the seller has a duty to disclose,” says Professor Maria Savasta-Kennedy, the author of North Carolina’s Environmental Law Practice Guide, who teaches environmental law and environmental justice at UNC School of Law. “Neither the federal Safe Drinking Water Act nor other federal or state regulation governs what is in your well water and how safe it is to drink.” Savasta-Kennedy supervises the Well Water Pro Bono Project, along with Cathy Cralle Jones, senior litigator with the Law Offices of F. Bryan Brice Jr. in Raleigh, who first brought the project to the law school. “The North Carolina Real Estate Commission is thrilled to be involved in bringing these much-needed resources to consumers,” said Charlie Moody, assistant director for the Regulatory Affairs Division of the NC Real Estate Commission. “Additionally, these materials will assist real estate brokers in educating their clients about the importance of well water testing.” When a new well is constructed in North Carolina, the local health department is required to conduct an initial test for a limited number of contaminants (N.C. Gen. Stat. 87-97), but ongoing testing is not required. Additionally, testing is not required for any wells installed prior to 2008. Radon, a prevalent, naturally occurring contaminant in the state, and emerging contaminants such as PFAS and GenX are not included on the list of contaminants that must be tested. “This effort to increase well water testing during real estate transactions complements our ongoing work to support private well users with cutting edge science and potential solutions when contamination is found,” said Rebecca Fry, director of the UNC SRP. “With our community partners, we will continue to incorporate the best science into policy dialogues, so private well users can feel confident making decisions about their drinking water to protect their families and communities.” The next steps include sharing this information broadly, and CWFNC is positioned to take on some of that work. According to Rachel Velez, CWFNC’s Water Justice program director, “absent state and federal regulations for private wells, we are excited to explore creative solutions for protecting well users. We look forward to engaging our statewide membership to better understand the obstacles rural and low-income private well users face when trying to provide a safe drinking water source for their households.” If you are a private well user and would like more information about this effort and research projects to improve drinking water in NC, please visit the UNC Superfund Research Project web page: https://sph.unc.edu/superfund-pages/cec/.  For more information about Well Water Pro Bono Project at UNC School of Law, please visit https://law.unc.edu/news/2021/10/well-water-testing-pro-bono-project/.


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  • Will property owners who lost land to scuttled Atlantic Coast Pipeline get it back?

    By: Lisa Sorg, NC Policy WatchOctober 28, 2021 Advocates cry foul as future of thousands of easements in North Carolina and Virginia remains uncertain  Dominion Energy laid claim to 3,100 tracts of private land along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline route, including hundreds in North Carolina, but the company is not immediately returning that acreage to property owners, even though the project has been cancelled. Now property rights and environmental advocates, as well as landowners themselves, are asking federal officials to formally intervene. Under the name…


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  • Amanda Strawderman: Completing Census could help fight pollution in NC

    By: Amanda Strawderman, Opinion Editorial in Fayetteville Observer August 20, 2020 Too many communities across the country are faced with living in unhealthy environments due to pollution related to drinking water and air quality. Environmental Justice (EJ) is the reality, backed by statistics, that polluting industries have historically targeted areas of low-income, or communities of color. The federal Environmental Protection Agency created a tool known as the EJ Screen with the purpose of identifying disproportionate impacts of pollution to such communities throughout the country. Grassroots leaders, environmental advocates and the public should be able use this tool to help prevent permits that…


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  • Belinda Joyner Is Tired of Fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, But She’s Still Fighting

    By: Lewis Kendall, IndyWeek July 1, 2020 “We are tired of being dumped on.” In February, Belinda Joyner caught a ride to the U.S. Supreme Court. Alongside a couple of close friends, the 67-year-old rode from her home in Garysburg, a 1,000-person town near the North Carolina-Virginia border, up to Washington, D.C. They were there to watch the court hear arguments over whether the U.S. Forest Service should be allowed to issue permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to be built through national forest lands connected to the Appalachian Trail. The 600-mile, $8 billion pipeline—spearheaded by Dominion Energy and Duke Energy and first…


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  • Consumers shouldn’t pay cleanup costs for coal ash dumping

    Op-Ed by Rachel Velez, Clean Water for North Carolina Published in the Burlington Times-News January 26, 2020 Impacted community members and environmental justice activists won a huge victory earlier this month when the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, community groups and Duke Energy signed a settlement agreement requiring the utility giant to fully excavate 80 million tons of coal ash from leaking, unlined pits in six sites across the state. This isn’t a complete victory, however, if Duke Energy is allowed to shove the cost of its coal ash cleanup onto customers — and that’s exactly what it’s asking the N.C. Utilities Commission…


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  • Pipeline protest reaches downtown Roanoke

    By: Heather Rousseau, The Roanoke Times September 24, 2019 About 150 people gathered in downtown Roanoke to protest against two proposed natural gas pipelines on Monday. Pipeline Protest SUN SiNG Collective performs at a rally with about 150 people gathered in downtown Roanoke Monday protesting against two proposed natural gas pipelines. Protesters from Virginia,…


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