• In NC, the right to clean, affordable drinking water and sanitation is threatened in many locations by contamination, poor service, and excessive rates charged by private water companies whose primary concern is their bottom line. Join Our Water Justice List! In our experience, public, locally-controlled utilities are most likely to offer quality, affordable water and sewer service. Through years of work with customers of these utilities, we’ve identified significant challenges faced by those served by privatized water and sewer companies, including: Affordability of water and wastewater – Though water rates are rising worldwide for both privately and publicly owned systems, privately-owned utilities’ rates are higher on average than those of publicly-owned utilities for the same sized system. A Food & Water Watch study found for-profit companies charged households an average of $501 a year for 60,000 gallons of water — $185 more than what local governments charged for the same amount of water. Water Quality – Water quality is often already poor in the chronically out-of-compliance systems targeted by privatizers, yet customers report continuing to struggle with the same problems after their system has been privatized, on top of higher rates associated with corporate water and sewer companies. Customer Service – Private water and sewer companies do not have local offices across the state. Many customers who try to report service issues are met with a voicemail system or innefective customer service. This issue continues to be brought up by customers of Aqua NC and Carolina Water Service during rate case hearings. Transparency – Private companies are less likely to be transparent than municipal systems. Companies may limit disclosure of operating information to protect access to operating strategies and to reduce costs associated with customer notification and interaction. Without full disclosure of information on operations, customers can’t act to protect their interests. Aqua NC and Carolina Water Service are the two largest corporate water utilities in our state. Click to learn more. We work to address these threats to clean, affordable water by: Researching privatization, rate-setting mechanisms and proposed legislation Providing decision-making tools to local officials facing decisions about whether to sell or lease their water/sewer utilities to a private company Organizing with privatized water customers to attend rate case hearings and give testimony Connecting customers to the NC Utilities Commission and Dept. of Environmental Quality to report rate and service concerns CWFNC Resources: Explore Drinking Water Watch – Learn what’s in your water! Video: The Impacts of Water Privatization on NC Communities Privatizing NC’s Water, Undermining Justice(PDF) (2011) The Stealthy Takeover of NC Drinking Water: A Snapshot of Corporate Privatization(PDF) (2014) Profit Over People: The Injustice of Aqua NC’s Sewer Shutoff Policy(PDF) (2015)


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  • Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are the main, industrialized method of producing animal products in the US. Neighbors of such operations, often rural, low-income communities, can experience air quality issues and well water impacts some of which have yet to be documented in any official manner. Overapplication of animal manure as fertilizer can lead to buildup of nitrogen and phosphorous, which can run off or leach into adjacent water sources. Groundwater contamination from CAFOs could be negatively impacting nearby households that depend on private wells for safe drinking water. Here in North Carolina, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) have been around for decades, with pollution and impacts exposed first from the swine industry but increasingly with the poultry industry. Community members living near these industrial operations, along with the workers employed by meat processing facilities, face the brunt of the health and environmental impacts posed by factory farming. Swine The swine industry shifted from small farms to more concentrated production in the 1990s creating environmental and health concerns for nearby community members. Organizations such as the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network and Sound Rivers took an early lead in the fight to protect communities located near these hog operations, who are disproportionately low-income and minority. One major concern with swine production is the use of the outdated lagoon and sprayfield system. This form of waste management flushes hog excrement into a large pit, known as a lagoon, and then sprays the collected liquid onto nearby fields. For the neighbors of these operations, the odors and health concerns attributed to the lagoon and sprayfield system can be unbearable and make their homes unlivable. Community members took legal action due to the injustice and documented problems associated with this waste management practice. Yet despite securing an agreement from the industry’s biggest producer to transition to superior technology, this system has been further cemented in place by the push for renewable natural gas, commonly referred to as biogas. Under a general permit, hog operations can choose to add covers over their lagoons to create and capture methane. This biogas can then be directed into pipelines for transportation or used on-site for electricity. Poultry In 2019, it came to CWFNC’s attention that poultry operations were spreading across North Carolina at an alarming speed. Our state agencies are not only lax with regulating these facilities, but they do not know where or how many currently exist. The poultry industry raises a variety of questions regarding the well-being of people and the environment. According to USDA census data, when evenly distributed, the average broiler CAFO in North Carolina sells nearly half a million chickens for meat annually. The waste generated by these millions of animals and spread without measure on nearby land is certainly cause for concern. Unique to the poultry industry is its waste management system, which, for broiler chickens, usually incorporates a dry “litter” that is either stored in piles or spread on crops as fertilizer. This industry also heavily relies on contracting farmers to raise their poultry, all while owning and operating all other aspects of production—a process known as “vertical integration.” Only a select few poultry companies dominate the industry, often leaving farmers with no alternatives for contracted employment in many places across the country. Processing Facilities In addition to factory farms, industrial animal agriculture relies heavily on a BIPOC and immigrant workforce to operate processing facilities, such as chicken hatcheries and meatpacking plants. These facilities cannot be ignored when addressing the Environmental Justice concerns of industrialized animal agriculture. Workers’ health and safety are often compromised by repetitive tasks, acute injuries, and diseases, including outbreaks like COVID-19. Get Involved! CWFNC continues to collaborate with other organizations and community members to build a more equitable, environmentally sound animal agriculture system in NC. To get involved, sign up for our monthly news alerts, consider volunteering, and check out our Community Science program for environmental monitoring efforts. Check out our Community Tools page Sign up for Factory Farm Watch Volunteer with us!


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  • Are you one of the more than 3 million private well users in NC? Most wells have never been inspected or tested for more than bacteria, even when state and local agencies knew of nearby contamination sites. We work towards strengthening protections for well users throughout the state through outreach, public education, well-testing, and advocating for local & state policies! The NC Department of Health and Human Services' Occupational and Environmental Epidemeology Branch is an excellent resource for questions regarding private well water quality and testing. Visit their website, or contact staff directly at (919) 707-5900. You can also search in the map below for your county's Environmental Health Director contact information! They can help you directly with any questions you may have about well water quality concerns or testing questions: Contact Your Local EHD—select your county below When should a well be tested? All newly constructed wells drilled after July 2008 in NC are rquired to be tested by the State Laboratory of Public Health or a state-certified laboratory (search for one below!) before becoming a drinking water source. The NC Dept. of Health and Human Services recommends that all private well users test their water after repairs or replacements to well components or following flooding events. How often should I test my well water? Every Year: Test for total and fecal coliform bacteria Every Two Years: Test for heavy metals, nitrates, nitrites, lead and copper Every Five Years: Test for pesticides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). If you know a particular pesticide that is applied in your area, test yearly Other special circumstances that may require a well to be tested include:  If you are pregnant or have an infant at home, test your water for nitrates. If your test comes back positive for nitrates in your well water, avoid drinking it or using it to prepare baby formula. Note: Boiling water does not remove nitrates. If you know that other folks in your area are experiencing issues with their well water If you’ve experienced flooding, land disturbances, or are impacted by nearby waste disposal sites If you notice changes in water quality, including taste, color, odor Important Private Well User Resources Certified Drinking Water Labs. CWFNC recommends using only state certified drinking water labs to test the quality of your water. Testing kits you receive in the mail are often associated with water filter marketing schemes! We can work with you to find a certified lab to test your water. Connect with Other NC Well Users. If you are a residential well user, and would like to connect with other NC well users to work for stronger well protections and more funding to help well users of modest means get safe replacement water, we'd love to hear from you! Clean Water for NC is building an “NC Well Users Network”, and we’ll be in touch soon about steps we can take together to help ensure millions of NC well users the right to safe water! Take the anonymous Private Well User Survey! Although exposure to naturally occurring and man-made contaminants in North Carolina groundwater is known to pose public health risks, private wells are not regulated under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.  To help us better understand community needs and concerns, we are inviting all individuals who rely on a private well for their drinking water source to participate in our ongoing, anonymous Private Well User Survey. Prepare for an Active Atlantic Hurricane Season. NC DHHS put together this helpful infographic to direct private well users to important resources for protecting their drinking water before the next flood. Learn important tips for preparing your well prior to a flooding event and what to do afterwards, including information on shock chorination.  You can contact DHHS directly to learn more at (919) 707-5900.


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  • Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is a method of extracting natural gas that involves blasting underground rock thousands of feet into the ground with a cocktail of sand, water and chemicals. Vast underground reserves called shale basins were long thought impractical to drilling because of their depth. However, “fracking” would allow NC reserves to be processed. Sign up for our NC Energy Digest! What are the potential environmental and health risks? Documented health risks (6 states with 1000 instances of groundwater contamination). Large amounts of fresh water used and large amounts of wastewater generated with limited disposal options. Inadequately regulated (2005 federal loophole exempting fracking from environmental regulation); spills, regulatory penalties, and litigation linked to fracturing operations have been reported in several states. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline The ACP was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), in October, 2017, ignoring extensive studies on lack of need for the pipeline and major impact. Since that time, Duke Energy and Dominion Energy proved they were unable to build the unjust, unneeded Atlantic Coast Pipeline without disproportionately impacting Indigenous and African American communities along the route, destroying fragile drinking water sources, and harming endangered species throughout W.V., V.A., and N.C. After years of challenges from the Courts, landowners, impacted communities, and ally organizations, Duke and Dominion cancelled their plans for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on July 6, 2020! The cancelling the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a victory for justice of many kinds! Environmental Justice, because the African American and Indigenous communities along the pipeline route can breathe easier that this massive project that will not victimize them yet again by disproportionately harming their health, safety, economics and access to their lands.  Climate justice, as the routine emissions of methane from the ACP and the fracked gas it supplied were estimated in our 2019 study to increase climate impacts by as much as 13% over EPA’s estimate of current national methane releases. Economic Justice, as ratepayers of the mega-utilities Duke and Dominion building the pipeline will not face the substantial rate hikes that the unneeded pipeline would have brought. Landowners along the pipeline, many of very modest means, had faced losing control of their lands or long court battles, and can now settle with the rapacious pipeline builders and move on with their lives. Our only disappointment is that our NC Department of Environmental Quality accepted the grossly inadequate Environmental Impact Statement that Dominion and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission foisted on them in 2017, and then granted air and water permits for the ACP that could not protect Environmental Justice for communities,  or the state’s waters and air quality.  We hope that DEQ’s leadership will realize how much of the state agency’s time and resources have been wasted on considering this misguided project,  and that they will become closer partners with Environmental Justice communities and well-informed, scientific and public-spirited non-profits to protect NC communities and the public’s resources for all of us,  even challenging federal “regulators” when they act as industry cheerleaders. We celebrate with the many thousands of impacted residents, and deeply committed activists, organizations, public interest law groups and coalitions that worked relentlessly to defeat this dangerous, costly and unnecessary pipeline. Resolutions against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Resolution by CWFNC Resolutionby UNC-Pembroke


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