• Contaminated wells prompt NC county to seek state grant

    By: Ben Sessoms, Common Dreams April 19, 2022 The Gray’s Creek community in Cumberland County could receive federal funding to help address the GenX contamination of some residential wells. The county Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed Monday to apply for North Carolina’s drinking water reserve and wastewater reserve grant. The grant, which has two rounds of funding in the spring and fall, is financed through federal allocations to the state as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality will administer the funds and determine which applicants are awarded grant money. If accepted, the county could receive up to $15 million to fund construction of a new central water distribution system in the Gray’s Creek area in southern Cumberland County, according to county documents. The state’s grant is meant for at-risk water systems for which, among other purposes, the applicant’s intention is to connect residences in disadvantaged, underserved communities to a different water system. According to water sampling from DEQ, some residential wells in Gray’s Creek are contaminated with GenX, a chemical substance produced in the nearby Chemours plant. GenX is a trade name for one unregulated per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance, or PFAS, used in manufacturing nonstick coatings, among other purposes, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Last month, Cumberland County filed a lawsuit against Chemours and its predecessor company, DuPont, for allegedly releasing millions of pounds of PFAS into the air above its Fayetteville Works facility in the decades following 1970, as reported by Carolina Public Press. To determine how GenX affects the human body, more studies need to be done, according to DHHS. A small, limited study from the state agency suggests the substance, which DuPont started producing in 2009, may leave the human body quickly. Previously, the county had allocated $10.5 million for providing an alternative water system for Gray’s Creek. A pending contract is in place with the Fayetteville Public Works Commission, but the board has not yet finalized and approved that agreement. The county has until May 2 to apply for the state grant. If DEQ doesn’t accept Cumberland County’s application, the department will automatically consider the application for the next round of funding in the fall. The state could grant a low-interest loan to supplement funding if Cumberland County accepts, according to DEQ. If funding is still available after both application rounds, DEQ will give more to accepted applicants in $5 million increments until all the money is exhausted. DEQ will reward applicants in increments in order of priority, which the agency will determine. Read the article on Common Dreams


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  • REPORT: “Advancing Well User Protections Through Policy”

    Clean Water for NC is celebrating World Water Day this year with the release of our new report "Advancing Well User Protections Through Policy"! Read Our Report!   This year's theme for International World Water Day 2022 is Groundwater: Making the Invisible Visible. Acknowledging the importance of groundwater and the services it provides to individuals across the globe is essential to developing protective well user protection policies, including policies for North Carolina's nearly 3 million private well users! With assistance from NC Well Water Working Group members, UNC's Superfund Research Program, NC Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) and NC Department of Health and Human Service (NC DHHS) officials, we outlined the case for two well user protection proposals: 1. Increase Funding, Scope & Accessibility of the Bernard Allen Fund 2. Require Well Testing Prior to Real Estate Transactions We hope you find this report insightful and inspiring. Our team looks forward to continuing to develop these policy recommendations before introducing them to some "legislative champions" in Raleigh! Did you know that North Carolina has the second largest population of private well users in the U.S.? Not only that, but there are no federal protections for these individuals - it is complete up to private well users to ensure the safety of their drinking water. What can you do to advocate for well user protections in your own community? Reach out to your state representatives and urge them to support policies that promote safe drinking water protections for North Carolina well users Visit our Well User Protection page to learn more about your county's well program. (Your county's Environmental Health Director is your local resource for everything "wells" - they are there to assist you!) Connect with Clean Water for NC staff about any questions or concerns you have about your private well


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  • Celebrating 50 Years of the Clean Water Act

    This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, our nation's landmark water protection legislation that aims to maintain healthy surface waters, ensure the health of ecological resources, protect human health, and restore impaired waters. It provides all individuals within the United States the right to waterways that are clean, biologically intact, and safe for use. Federal authority for enforcement lies with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which gives states and tribes the tools and guidance necessary to protect and maintain healthy waterways in cooperation with federal government agencies. This cornerstone legislation was signed into law by President Nixon on October 18, 1972, with the main goals of restoring and maintaining "the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s water,” eliminate pollutant discharges and provide for the “protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife” and “recreation in and on the water.” President Nixon signs the Clean Water Act into Law, October 18th 1972. Source: Science History Institute “The Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 — the modern Clean Water Act — established a national commitment to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. The Clean Water Act has been instrumental in improving the health of rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. It has stopped billions of pounds of pollution from fouling the water, and dramatically increased the number of waterways that are safe for swimming and fishing.” Learn more about the history of the Clean Water Act: “A Brief History of the Clean Water Act”, from PBS’s NOW Robust protection of our nation's surface waters came under act attack in 2020 when the Trump administration dramatically reduced the amount of U.S. waterways receiving federal protection under the Clean Water Act in a bid to comply with industry interests and fast-track oil and gas pipelines. Of the many changes introduced by Trump's EPA, perhaps the biggest and most contentious was the controversial move to roll back federal pollution limits in wetlands and smaller waterways. All together, Trump gutted protections for 25% of surface waters in the country. The tides changed once again in 2021 when newly elected President Joe Biden announced his plans to undo the Trump-era rule and restore protections to streams and wetlands. While we await a formal rule proposal by the Biden administration, the 2015 Obama-era "Clean Water Rule" has been reinstated in the interim. This law provides a blanket definition of "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS), allowing protections to approximately 60% of America's surface waters. Wetlands in North Carolina. Source: Department of Environmental Quality We love clean water and know you do, too! Keep up-to-date with all our work with communities to protect and restore North Carolina's beautiful water resources. Sign up today to receive our newest edition of Clean Currents to learn about our Water Justice & Polluter Accountability programs, membership & volunteer opportunities, and how YOU can become a clean water advocate in your own community. Sign up to receive our quarterly Clean Currents Newsletter! Our NC Department of Environmental Quality's Division of Water Resources is responsible for ensuring safe drinking water in accordance with the Clean Water Act. The Division issues pollution control permits, monitors permit compliance, and carries out enforcement actions for violations of environmental regulations. Help protect the waters of North Carolina by getting informed and getting involved! Sign up to receive Division of Water Resources Press releases. Information on meetings regarding rulemakings, surface water quality standards, and committee meetings Sign up to receive information on draft permits for a proposed industry. Public notices straight to your inbox about opportunities to speak out and how to provide comments to the Division  Check out River Network's comprehensive Clean Water Act overview for community manuals, toolkits, and much more!


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  • Monitoring Kick-off! Working together to inform the public through Community Science

    This summer, Clean Water for North Carolina is re-engaging our environmental monitoring efforts to prepare for our Community Science programs! Asheville staff Amanda Strawderman and Shelby Cline (pictured below) recently conducted air monitoring and water testing near the Pee Dee River. While on their trip, they caught glimpses of industrial-sized chicken houses (often known as poultry CAFOs or factory farms), dodged poison ivy, met a friendly cat with her four kittens, and managed to gather some data while they were at it. 


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  • Tools Series for the Citizen Scientist in Your Community: NC SWAP Tool!

    This Earth Week, learn how to become an environmental expert in your community! In today’s digital world, online tools or web applications are a convenient way for public agencies like the EPA to share information about polluting industries and their potential harm to the environment. For communities, these tools may be particularly useful to combat environmental injustice. By mapping important information about facilities, pollutants, water sources and other publicly available resources, users can gain the knowledge they need to face any challenges in their area. But these applications can also be difficult…


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