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Lenoir-Rhyne hosts Western North Carolina Water Quality Conference
Lenoir-Rhyne hosts Western North Carolina Water Quality Conference

The Lenoir-Rhyne Reese Institute for Conservation of Natural Resources, in partnership with the Western Piedmont Water Resources Committee and Western Piedmont Stormwater Planning Partnership, hosted its annual WNC Water Quality Conference. The event was held virtually on Sept. 9 bringing together 120 professionals, government officials and educators.

Topics included the use of constructed wetlands, small scale and innovative stormwater solutions, community engagement around water resources, an update on stormwater and water supply watershed protection as well as industrial poultry operations and their effect on water quality.

Key Takeaways:

  • Constructing wetlands is a tool that rural towns can use to meet nitrogen treatment requirements, expand treatment plants and clean package plant waste. There are currently only five operational constructed wetlands in North Carolina. They are New Hanover Co. Landfill, Aurora WWTP, Walnut Cove EETP, Caledonia Prison, and Goldsboro WWTP.
  • Water quantity concerns due to population growth, irrigation demand, and the boom in impervious surfaces. Several ways we can approach stormwater include downspout disconnection, rain gardens, water harvesting and stream bank repair.
  • Clean Water Management Trust Fund (soon to be NC Land and Water Fun) has grant-funding opportunities available to address land acquisition, restoration, planning, and innovative stormwater management projects for local governments, state agencies and nonprofits. Awards for 2020 will be announced in mid-September and applications for 2021 are due in early February.
  • Outreach through community-based research, educational programming, and outreach. Partners for Environmental Justice was able to create more awareness about the Cottage Cove Neighborhood's water quality and overall water quality knowledge among community youth. Partners for Environmental Justice suggests finding ways to connect with your community and offer attractive incentives when conducting citizen science projects.
  • DEQ updates: The Department of Environmental Quality has updated permit requirements for a number of operations and processes managed by local governments related to both federal policy (Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) and North Carolina state-level policy to address post construction site runoff. DEQ is also currently updating a new and revised model ordinance for the Water Supply Watershed Protection Act for North Carolina.
  • Poultry wast: it is a challenge to prove a farm is in violation in North Carolina — conducting flyovers and two weeks of documentation is not feasible. Poultry waste has also shown connections with water quality and air quality issues. Clean Water for North Carolina suggests North Carolina needs better legislation, along with more opportunities for community input at public hearings.

If you would like to learn more please consider checking out the following resources:

North Carolina State Extension
North Carolina State Wastewater Management Program
Clean Water Management Trust Fund
Partners for Environmental Justice
Clean Wate for North Carolina