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Nov. 20, 10-2PM, NC Environmental Justice and Equity Board meeting, agenda TBA, Walnut Creek Wetland Center, Raleigh

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Lead Violations Impact Vulnerable NC Communities

Rachel Velez

Rachel Velez, guest author

While many are aware of the recent water crisis in Flint, Michigan, public health issues relating to lead and copper contamination may be closer to home than you think. Clean Water for North Carolina recently obtained a dataset from the North Carolina Public Water Supply section detailing almost 1,000 lead and copper violations over the past four years. With an estimated ¾’s of North Carolinians accessing their drinking water from public water systems, we wanted to use this data to discover if lead and copper exposure disproportionately affects certain communities throughout our state.

One way to determine if certain communities are at a greater risk is by looking at the socioeconomic statuses of the North Carolina counties in which the violations have been reported. The N.C. Department of Commerce assigns counties to Tier 1, 2, or 3 designations based on their economic well-being, with Tier 1 counties being the most economically distressed and Tier 3 counties the least. According to the data, the majority of LCR violations occur in Tier 2 counties, while Tier 1 counties reported the least LCR violations. This trend is both interesting and surprising, as poor infrastructure and maintenance is oftentimes most characteristic of lower-income communities.
Tiers & LCR violations
While regions recognized as the most economically distressed do not appear to be disproportionately affected on the county scale, public water systems servicing communities predominately home to lower income residents, specifically mobile home parks, reported the majority of LCR violations across the board. Approximately 30% of the total 879 LCR violations over the past four years were reported in mobile home communities, with no specific pattern regarding county tier designation. Even more concerning, over 50% of the violating water systems did not provide a Lead Consumer Notice form to the mobile home residents, which defines key terms, provides sampling results, and explains health threats associated with exposure.

Homestead MHP

A residence in Homestead Mobile Home Park, Orange County. The water system violated the LCR on 1/1/2015 through not providing its residents with a Lead Consumer Notice form — a public education requirement for residents exposed to lead and copper in their drinking water.

Water systems serving educational institutions, including schools and daycares account for about 16% of the total LCR violations over the past four years. Approximately 30% of these violations were reported in Tier 1 counties, primarily in southern Columbus county. Greenglo Daycare Center located in Vance County reported the most violations among all public water systems serving educational institutions, with 13 violations stemming from 2013, five of which have yet to be returned to compliance. In fact, Greenglo ranked third in number of violations among any other water system described in the report, behind Sixty-Eight Place at Oak Ridge shopping center (14 violations) and Cedar Lake Condos (17 violations).

Threats to our nation’s public health are not spread homogeneously across the country, and the same goes for when looking at lead and copper violations across North Carolina. To stay informed on the quality of public drinking water sources, consumers can contact their providers and ask about lead sampling dates and results, and request Lead Consumer Notice forms mentioned above. Private well users can also be at risk of lead in drinking water. Well users may contact their local health department for information on how to test for lead, or contact Clean Water for NC at (Read on for more background on the Lead & Copper Rule).

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline–NC Can Stop it!

Even before FERC’s “conditional approval” of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Oct. 13, NC’s Dept. of Environmental Quality was requesting lots more information from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline about how they would protect NC water quality, and actually disapproving ACP’s application for an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan.

The ACP is NOT a “done deal”–YOU can make a difference! By thanking key NC regulators for their rigorous review of the ACP applications and encouraging them to disapprove these permits, you’ll let them know the public is watching.

Come to the  “All I Want for Christmas is NO ACP” Rally on Monday, November 13th  12:00 PM in front of the Dept of Admininistration Bldg, 116 W. Jones St.and let DEQ that we expect them to do the right thing!

WV compressor station located near where ACP would start

November 15th is the Air Quality permit hearing for the huge compressor station planned for Northampton County!  This compressor station would release particulates, methane and toxic volatile organic compounds as well as bring high noise levels to nearby residents. The hearing will be on November 15th, at Garysburg Town Hall (504 Old Highway Road), and you can send comments to until Nov. 20th. For more information on the hearing, check here. Facebook event page hereFor key concerns and talking points on the permit click here.


Presentations from the Regional Summit on ACP Impacts


Cathy Kunkel


Cathy Kunkel

Energy Analyst, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis

Do we need it? Economics of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline



Marvin Winstead

Nash County Landowner with Nash Stop the Pipeline

ACP Impacts on Landowners and Actions to Prevent Eminent Domain Abuse


Jorden Revels

UNC-Pembroke Student, EcoRobeson

Ericka Faircloth

Clean Water for NC, EcoRobeson

ACP Impacts on Native Ancestral Lands


Therese Vick

Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League

Health and Safety Impacts of Natural Gas Compressor Stations


Oshin Paranjape

Oshin Paranjape

Duke University Collaborator

High Consequence Areas, Blast Zones, and Public Safety along the  Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Video presentation (no slides embedded).


John Runkle

Environmental Attorney

It Ain’t Over til’ it’s Over — Legal Challenges to FERC & DEQ Decisions


Xavier Boatwright, Hope Taylor

Clean Water for NC

Rising Up for a Just Energy and Climate Future in NC



Updated: High Consequence Areas, Blast Zones, Public Safety along the ACP

Click here to read Clean Water for North Carolina’s new report, “High Consequence Areas, Blast Zones, and Public Safety along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline!”, now with important updates! The report explains the 900+ foot “Blast Zone” along the ACP route and displays maps of the 24 “High Consequence Areas” in Northampton, Halifax, Nash, Wilson, Johnston, Cumberland and Robeson Counties, and how they endanger residents close to the pipeline.