DEQ Puts Cliffside Area Residents at Risk of Coal Ash Contamination

DEQ Puts Cliffside Area Residents at Risk of Coal Ash Contamination


DEQ Puts Cliffside Area Residents at Risk of Coal Ash Contamination


photo: courtesy of Duke Energy

The Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) risk classification for North Carolina’s coal ash pits puts the health of residents who live downstream from the Cliffside coal ash impoundments, including those who live in Shelby and Gaffney, SC, at risk from contaminated drinking water.

The DEQ issued its Coal Combustion Residual Impoundment Risk Classifications report on the afternoon of Friday, January 29. The DEQ has classified two of the Cliffside coal ash pits as low and one as “low/intermediate” priority despite testing that shows high levels of arsenic, chromium, cobalt, hexavalent chromium, thallium and vanadium contaminating groundwater and flowing into the Broad River. A classification of high or even intermediate priority would require Duke Energy excavate the sites, while a low rating means coal ash will be left on the banks of the Broad river to pollute a public drinking water source in perpetuity.

David Caldwell, coordinator of the Broad River Alliance — a Waterkeeper Alliance Affiliate, states:

“We know there are toxic chemicals in these ash ponds, and we know that they’re spilling into the Broad River and seeping into our drinking water. On every criteria set out by legislature in the Coal Ash Management Act, these three sites deserve a failing grade. If we don’t push the DEQ, all they’ll require for these pits it that they be covered and left in place to continue polluting our water in perpetuity. We are asking DEQ to show us the same respect given to 13 other communities across NC, and have the ash ponds permanently removed.”

DEQ is required to rate the ponds high, intermediate or low based on three criteria: the impact to surface water, the impact to groundwater and dam safety. According to the DEQ’s own Corrective Action Plan for the Cliffside Steam Station Ash Basin (November 16, 2015) all three of the Cliffside sites deserve a failing grade.

  • Pollution of Groundwater:
    All three Cliffside coal ash ponds pollute the groundwater with high levels of toxic metals, including arsenic at over 468 times the state’s safety standard, vanadium at 690 times the standard, hexavalent chromium at 185 times the standard and cobalt at 119 times the standard. The polluted groundwater from all three pits flows into the Broad River and Suck Creek, which are drinking water sources for Shelby NC, Gaffney SC and other downstream municipalities.
  • Pollution of Surface Water:
    All three coal ash ponds pollute the Broad River and Suck Creek with 28 illegal discharges that dump millions of gallons of toxic heavy metals each day, including chromium at 51 times the limit, arsenic at 37 times the state’s safety, and cobalt at 19 times the state’s safety standard.
  • Deficiency of Dam Infrastructure:
    DEQ has rated the dams as low priority despite the fact that the three Cliffside coal ash ponds received 5 notices of deficiency for dam structural integrity in 2014. DEQ has justified its ratings based on the outcome of future renovations to the dams’ structure that have yet to be completed. The Coal Ash Management Act was designed to rate the dams on their current risk and currently all the dams have received recent notice of deficiencies for many of the same problems that caused the Dan River spill.

The heavy metals and toxic chemicals seeping from the Cliffside coal ash pits are present at levels that are harmful to humans and wildlife. Arsenic poisoning can lead to heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases and diabetes. Cobalt has been linked to cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, blood poisoning, liver injury and thyroid problems. Chromium is a carcinogen and hexavalent chromium was the subject of the movie Erin Brockovich, which was based on the true story of groundwater contamination in Hinkley, California by Pacific Gas Electric Company.

MountainTrue, a conservation organizations that is active on issues affecting the Broad River watershed, encourages residents to attend one of two DEQ public hearings on the Cliffside plants scheduled for March 14.

  • Cleveland County Hearing on Cliffside Coal Ash Classification
    Monday March 14 at 6:00 PM
    114 E. College Ave, Shelby, NC 28152
  • Rutherford County Hearing on Cliffside Coal Ash Classification
    Monday March 14 at 6:00 PM
    Isothermal Community College Auditorium, 286 ICC Loop Rd, Spindale, NC 28160

For more information on the public hearings and DEQ coal ash classifications, visit http://mountaintrue.org.

About MountainTrue
MountainTrue fosters and empowers communities throughout the region and engages in policy and project advocacy, outreach and education, and on the ground projects. To achieve our goals, MountainTrue focuses on a core set of issues across 23 counties of Western North Carolina: sensible land use, restoring public forests, protecting water quality and promoting clean energy – all of which have a high impact on the environmental health and long-term prosperity of our residents. MountainTrue is the home of the Watauga Riverkeeper, the primary watchdog and spokesperson for the Elk and Watauga Rivers; the French Broad Riverkeeper, the primary protector and defender of the French Broad River watershed; and Broad River Alliance, a Waterkeeper Affiliate working to promote fishable, swimmable, drinkable waters in the Broad River Basin. For more information: mountaintrue.org

Media Contacts:

Karim Olaechea
Communications Director, MountainTrue
E: karim@mountiantrue.org; C: 415.535.9004

David Caldwell
Coordinator, Broad River Alliance – A Waterkeeper Alliance Affiliate
E: broadriveralliance@gmail.com C: 704.300.5069


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Putting the modern in Duke Energy’s “modernization” plan

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy featured the following guest blog from Joan Walker, MountainTrue’s Campaign Director/Interim Southern Region Director detailing the history and current opportunities for public engagement on Duke Energy’s Western Carolina’s “Modernization” Project.

On January 26, in Asheville, our communities will have their only chance to speak on Duke Energy’s plans for Western North Carolina at a public hearing of the North Carolina Utilities Commission. This is the final chapter in a long campaign that has brought our communities together in the fight for a smarter, cleaner energy future.

Let’s rewind to May of 2015, when Duke Energy announced they would retire their Asheville coal-fired power plant. Those of us who have been working for years to secure that retirement experienced a confusing mix of excitement and disappointment. While our region would finally be free from our dependence on coal, Duke was planning a massive new natural gas-powered infrastructure project.

Read more

Hendersonville Green Drinks: The Path Toward a Cleaner, Safer and More Affordable Energy Future


Hendersonville Green Drinks: The Path Toward a Cleaner, Safer and More Affordable Energy Future

MountainTrue Campaigns Director Joan Walker is the featured presenter of the next Hendersonville Green Drinks on Thursday, January 14 at Black Bear Coffee in downtown Hendersonville.

JoanHeadshotJuly2012_2New time and place!
What: Hendersonville Green Drinks
Where: Black Bear Coffee, 318 N. Main St., Hendersonville
When: January 14, 2016. Come at 5:30 pm for networking; discussion starts at 6:00 pm.

Attendees will learn about the current state of Duke Energy’s Western Carolinas Modernization project, and ongoing efforts by MountainTrue and the Carolina Land Coalition to ensure that Duke prioritizes energy efficiency and renewable infrastructure and reduces its reliance on fossil fuels. Walker will also discuss ways that area residents and businesses can work together to reduce demand for electricity and avoid a third gas-fired unit proposed by Duke.

Come to Green Drinks to learn more about current environmental issues, have relevant discussions, and meet up with like-minded people. Everyone is welcome. You don’t have to drink at Green Drinks, just come and listen. Black Bear Coffee offers beer, wine, coffee drinks and sodas. A limited food menu will be available. For more information about Hendersonville’s Green Drinks, contact Joan Walker, Campaigns Director for MountainTrue at 828.258.8737 x 205, or joan@mountaintrue.org.

 


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Environmental Groups File to Intervene on Duke Energy’s Proposed New Gas Plant


Environmental Groups File to Intervene on Duke Energy’s Proposed New Gas Plant

Contact:
Kelly Martin, Sierra Club, (828-423-7845)
Julie Mayfield, MountainTrue (828-271-4544)
DJ Gerken, SELC (828-337-2238)

Asheville, N.C. — MountainTrue and the Sierra Club, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), today filed a petition to intervene in proceeding before the North Carolina Utilities Commission regarding Duke Energy’s proposed new gas-fired power plant that the company has branded its “Western Carolinas Modernization Project.”

Download the petition (pdf)

Duke Energy Progress, whose service territory includes Asheville and other parts of Western North Carolina, submitted to the Utilities Commission on December 16 a notification of intent to file an application for a “certificate of public convenience and necessity” for the new gas units that, if approved, would replace a coal-fired plant at Lake Julian, south of Asheville that is slated for retirement in 2020.

In its letter to the Commission, Duke Energy Progress stated its intent to seek approval of two new natural gas-fired 280 MW units, as well as a third 192 MW unit designed to meet additional demand during peak times. Duke has stated that the ‘peaking” unit may not need to be built if the company can meet demand through energy efficiency programs and greater use of renewable technologies. Duke is currently in discussions with the City of Asheville and Buncombe County, MountainTrue and the Sierra Club to develop those alternatives.

MountainTrue and the Sierra Club, represented by SELC, are requesting to intervene in the proceeding to ensure that the proposed gas plant is truly needed to provide power to Duke’s customers in Western NC, as required under state law, and that the company maximizes its use of cleaner, cost-effective alternatives such as energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Kelly Martin, senior campaign representative for the Beyond Coal campaign in North Carolina, said:

“Duke’s stated intent, albeit qualified, to build a 192 MW peaking gas unit looks like a bet against the success of the recently established Community Clean Energy Policy Framework—a community partnership to achieve demand reductions through energy efficiency measures. That framework, as Duke has publicly stated, ‘involves substantive conversations with the city and other stakeholders about ways to increase renewable energy, energy efficiency and evolving technologies here locally.’

“We therefore encourage Duke to postpone seeking approval for a gas peaker unit in Asheville, and urge the company to include a specific financial commitment to measurable energy efficiency goals as part of the Modernization Project Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity application.

“Taking these two steps will go a long way toward retaining and building confidence in the community partnership on reducing energy use.”

Julie Mayfield, co-director of MountainTrue, said:

“The inclusion of the 192 MW peaking plant in this filing is unfortunate. Duke has told the public that they are looking for cleaner alternatives, then they turn around and ask the public utilities commission for permission to build the additional unit seven years before they say it might be necessary.

“We believe in the commitment of the local Duke officials to this process, but it seems that one hand may not know what the other is doing. We want Duke to be all in on seeking alternatives to the third unit instead of building in a back door, and we are asking them to send a clear message that they are fully committed to finding cleaner, sustainable alternatives by removing the peaking unit from their filing to the utilities commission.”

D.J. Gerken, Managing Attorney, Asheville Office of the Southern Environmental Law Center, said:

“In 2015 the General Assembly gave Duke a fast track for review of this proposal – but not a free pass to overbuild its new fossil fuel plant and stick its customers with the bill.  Duke needs to make a real commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency in the mountains and put up data to prove that it needs this expansion.

“I am especially skeptical of Duke’s request for up-front approval to build a 190 MW peaking unit it would not need until 2023, if ever, when the Company said just two months ago it was working to avoid the third unit with new investments in energy efficiency.”

The application for approval could be filed as soon as January 15, 2016. A public hearing is set for 7:00 p.m. on January 26 at the Buncombe County Courthouse, and a decision by the Utilities Commission must be made within 45 days from the of the filing, or as soon as February 29, 2016.

###


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Conservation and Recreation Coalition Announces Recommendations for Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests

Conservation and Recreation Coalition Announces Recommendations for Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests

(SYLVA, NC)—A coalition of conservation and recreation organizations recommends more trails and better public access as well as backcountry and wild areas for the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests, according to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) developed by the coalition. The coalition is submitting the MOU to the U.S. Forest Service as part of the ongoing forest plan revision process for the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests.

The coalition includes Access Fund, American Alpine Club, American Whitewater, Back Country Horsemen of America, Back Country Horsemen of Blue Ridge, Back Country Horsemen of North Carolina, Back Country Horsemen of Pisgah, Back Country Horsemen of Western North Carolina, Black Dome Mountain Sports, Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, Carolina Adventure Guides, Carolina Climbers Coalition, Franklin Bird Club, Friends of Big Ivy, Ground Up Publishing, Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust, Highlands Plateau Audubon Society, Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition, International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), MountainTrue, Nantahala Area Southern Off-Road Biking Association (SORBA), Nantahala Hiking Club, North Carolina Horse Council, Northwest North Carolina Mountain Bike Alliance, Outdoor 76, Outdoor Alliance, Pisgah Area SORBA, Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventures, Southern Appalachian Plant Society, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS), Stay and Play in the Smokies, The Wilderness Society, Trout Unlimited – Unaka Chapter, and Wild South.

The idea driving the coalition is simple: Western North Carolina’s national forests are the region’s greatest public asset, and should be protected for their inherent beauty, biodiversity, and their many values. Recognizing that Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest is in the top three most visited national forests in the United States, the proposal acknowledges the economic importance of these forests for recreation and tourism, and recommends management of these assets in a responsible manner that is both environmentally and economically sound. The management and designations proposed by the coalition extend stronger protections to more than 365,000 of the national forest’s nearly 1.1 million acres including two new National Recreation Areas and more than 109,000 acres of recommended wilderness.

Key recommendations within the proposal:

  • Two new National Recreation Areas for Western North Carolina: a 115,573-acre Pisgah National Recreation Area and a 57,400-acre Grandfather National Recreation Area that will protect these areas from resource extraction and ensure that their unique natural beauty and ecological diversity are maintained for future generations, while recreation use such as hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, kayaking, and climbing is planned and managed for as a long-term priority. National Recreation Areas will formalize recreation access in key points of our forests, and would allow for the establishment of sustainable infrastructure to prevent damage to the areas while preserving recreational opportunities.
  • Wilderness protection for 109,961 acres in the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests.  Hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and hiking are among the many activities that would be welcomed in these areas. While the Forest Service can recommend wilderness, it would have to be approved by Congressional legislation and signed into law by the president.

Those who support the recommendations put forth in the MOU can help by providing public comments to the Forest Service that both endorses a plan that provides more public access and recreation, and protects more of our backcountry and wild places.

Comments can be submitted via email at NCPlanRevision@fs.fed.us or via mail at United States Forest Service Supervisor’s Office, 160 Zillicoa St, Suite A, Asheville, NC 28801.

For more information, contact:

Brent Martin, The Wilderness Society – Southern Appalachian Regional Director
(828) 587-9453 • brent_martin@tws.org

Josh Kelly, MountainTrue – Public Lands Field Biologist
828.258.8737 x 210 • josh@mountaintrue.org


Read Full Text of the MOU

Download PDF

Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Mayfield on the Challenge within Duke’s Revised Proposal

Mayfield on the Challenge within Duke’s Revised Modernization Plan

MountainTrue Co-director Julie Mayfield has a new guest column in this week’s issue of the MountainXpress where she discusses the challenge posed by Duke Energy’s revised Western Carolinas Modernization Project.

On November 4, Duke Energy, citing more than 9,000 public comments, revised their plans in the face of widespread community opposition. The power utility reduced the size of the natural gas power plant slated to replace the coal-fired plant at Lake Julian and scrapped plans for new transmission lines through Henderson and Polk counties and a new substation in Campobello, South Carolina.

But, as Julie points out in her column:

While the utility has reduced the overall size of the proposed natural gas plant, it has also issued a warning: Unless something changes in Western North Carolina, Duke will need to build an additional gas-fueled, 190-megawatt peaking unit to meet growing demand. This would commit us to an even greater reliance on climate-changing fossil fuels for the foreseeable future.

The region is growing, as are our energy needs. If we are going to move the region not just beyond coal but toward a fossil-fuel-free future, local residents and businesses, municipal and county governments and, indeed, Duke Energy must work together.

Read the full column at MountainXpress.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Swimguide – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Swimguide – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly


For seven months, from April 1 to October 31, over 25 volunteers took more than 575 E. coli water samples to ensure the waterways of the French Broad River are safe for swimming. This data was collected from 22 sites throughout the watershed, from Rosman in Transylvania County to Hot Springs in Madison County.

Overall, the data shows the French Broad River is in good shape, with 86% of our sites testing safe for recreation use a majority of the time. However, there is still a lot of work to make sure all the sites meet the goals of the Clean Water Act to be fishable and swimmable.

We chose testing sites where we people frequently use the river for recreation purposes. While most of our testing sites are on the French Broad River itself, we also collected samples from tributaries, including the Mills and Swannanoa Rivers, and Cane, Hominy and Big Laurel Creeks. Our volunteers test their sites for E. coli once a week and publish the results on the swimguide.org website and the smartphone app. E. coli is a bacteria found in the waste (feces) of warm-blooded animals, including humans and cattle, and high levels of E. coli in our waters can be a risk to human health and the environment.

MountainTrue volunteers have been trained to sample, incubate and interpret their results using a standard set by the EPA. Waters with less than 235 colony forming units per 100 mL are safe for recreating, those above are not. Swim Guide uses a simple red-light, green-light system to depict whether a certain swimming hole or access point is safe for swimming or boating.  

Each sampling site is different and pollution problems vary throughout the watershed, but, fairly consistently across almost all sites, E. coli levels tend to spike in the river right after rain events. The reasons for this vary from site to site, but often include things like runoff from agriculture operations, sewer and septic overflows or leaks, and runoff from urban sources of bacteria, such as dog waste. However, there is another source that most people don’t consider and that is legacy bacteria that remains in the river sediments. This bacteria is stirred up by rain and contributes to the high levels in the river after rain events. If you don’t have the Swim Guide data handy, a general rule is that bacteria levels are low when the river is clear and spike when the river runs muddy.  

Despite the overall positive results, our data has shown there are still some problematic locations. Hominy Creek and Cane Creek are often much higher in E. coli than is recommended by the EPA. MountainTrue is using this data to target these streams for additional monitoring in order to track pollution sources.

Below is a quick breakdown of our testing season this year.

The Good

Top 5 Sites and percentage green

  1. Mills River – 100%
  2. Pisgah Forest Access – 96.3%
  3. Swannanoa River at Azalea Park – 92.59%
  4. Pearson Bridge – 89.29%
  5. Champion Park – 88.46%

Why are these sites good?

It is very hard to say with certainty why a specific site is rated high or low, but land use has a big impact on water quality. The land use that most of these sites have in common is a forested watershed. All these spots, with the exception of Pearson Bridge, are bordered by a good amount of forested land. Less development and less surrounding agriculture mean there are few sources for E. coli and a good stream buffer of trees to filter out any pollution that exists. Forests equal good land management and the Mills River site is a great example. It is completely surrounded by Pisgah National Forest and the data shows it is clean for 100% of our samples. Overall 13 of 15 sites on the main stem of the French Broad River are rated good over 70% of the time. Six of 15 sites on the French Broad River are rated good over 80% of the time. These sites include all four sites in Transylvania County as well at Pearson Bridge and Woodfin River Park. Over 50% of the land in Transylvania County is publicly owned and protected, which explain a lot the low levels of E. coli in our samples.

The Pearson Bridge site is not easy to explain as it sits in the middle of heavy land use, surrounded by the City of Asheville, but some of its success can be attributed to the millions of dollars the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) has put into improving their sewage collection over the years. A historically leaky system has been dramatically improved; this is one possible reason that this site in the middle of Asheville and along the very popular tube to the Bywater is so clean

The Bad

Worst 5 sites and percentage green

  1. Hominy Creek Greenway – 44%
  2. Hominy Creek at Buncombe County Sports Park – 44%
  3. Cane Creek  at Fletcher Park – 45%
  4. French Broad at Bent Creek River Park – 56%
  5. Big Laurel Creek – 68%

Why are these sites bad?

Again, it is hard to say exactly why  a site is bad, but land use is the likely culprit. Hominy Creek sits in a rapidly growing valley that drains Enka, Candler and West Asheville. The valley is a network of septics systems and sewers that vary widely in the quality. Aging sewers can leak, back up and overflow during heavy rains, or discharge high amounts of E. coli if the system doesn’t function correctly. Septic systems only work when they are correctly maintained. Because these systems are usually “out of sight and out of mind,” routine maintenance is neglected. Instances of straight piping along some waterways still exist. This was a much more common practice years ago, as it refers to piping your sewage or wastewater directly into a creek or stream. The Hominy Valley is also home to numerous agricultural operations that could be contributing to the stream impairment problem along the creek. We are monitoring the creek more closely to track down the sources of this pollution and improve the water quality of the creek.

Cane Creek is a similar mix of land. The headwaters of the creek flow through Fairview, then the creek snakes through a mix of rural residential and agricultural lands before flowing through Fletcher on its way to the French Broad River. MountainTrue has documented several agricultural operations that are impacting the creek and we are working to improve those. Big Laurel is a largely agricultural, but MountainTrue has not yet done enough additional monitoring to determine the extent agriculture impacts the stream. The Bent Creek site is a bit of mystery, but there are some limitations in the sampling that make it hard to fully quantify the results.

The timing of our testing greatly impacts the bacteria counts. Our samples are taken once a week. Therefore, they are just a snapshot in time. It is possible that sometimes a volunteer’s sampling just happens to fall right after a rain event for multiple weeks in a row. In a place like Western North Carolina, rain is a big factor in the results of our work.    

The Ugly

Highest E. Coli count – Hominy Creek Greenway 7500/100Ml. We don’t actually have a photo of this event, but the image at the top of this post is another ugly one from Hominy Creek Greenway coming in at over 1700.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

A Big Thank You to Our Biomonitoring Volunteers!


A Big Thank You to Our Biomonitoring Volunteers!

 


MountainTrue wants to thank all the dedicated volunteers who have helped make this another successful year for our biomonitoring programing. Our nine teams of volunteers sampled 21 sites throughout Henderson County, and you can expect the results of this testing in the coming weeks.

Biomonitoring, or biological monitoring, involves sampling and identifying aquatic macroinvertebrates, including insects, snails, worms, mussels, clams and crustaceans. Macroinvertebrates are sensitive to pollution such as sediment, excess nutrients and various chemicals. The diversity, health and abundance of macroinvertebrates found in a stream is a strong indicator of water quality over a period of time and can give a general idea of what may be polluting a stream.

“Using benthic macroinvertebrates to monitor stream health is very effective because the bugs we collect have been living in the stream for several months and provide an indication of the conditions in the stream over an extended period of time,” explains biomonitoring volunteer Jim Czarnezki who is a retired expert in the field. “By looking at the presence or absence of sensitive species, we can determine if a pollution event occurred even if we cannot determine what the specific pollutant was.”

Our biomonitoring program is part of our ongoing effort to monitor water quality throughout the Henderson County. This MountainTrue program is part of the larger SMIE or Stream Monitoring Information Exchange – a regional program managed by the Environmental Quality Institute to determine the health of streams and provide high-quality data. The data is compiled by EQI into an annual report, which are published on our website here: http://mountaintrue.org/water-quality-committee/

MountainTrue collects samples bi-annually during the months of October and April.  The majority of our volunteers are people who live and work in Henderson County. Some are retirees. Some are working professionals. Others are students at Warren Wilson, UNCA and Blue Ridge Community College. All have a deep commitment to clean waters and healthy ecosystems.

“Biomonitoring streams is a great way to really see life in streams. It is amazing how many little creatures are in a sample of water, under rocks or in a leaf pile,” says Dorothee Kellinghuse, a student at Warren Wilson. “As a person who loves nature with all its creatures and beauty, it is my goal to preserve and protect the habitat of which I am a part.”

 


To volunteer for our SMIE biomonitoring program

Email Evan Parker

Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Three Local Events For Climate Action

Three Local Events For Climate Action

This December, world leaders will meet in Paris to hammer out a new climate agreement. As part of a global movement, hundreds of thousands of people in cities and towns around the world will gather and participate in events to send Paris a clear message: Now is the time to take bold action on climate change!

Europe’s climate chief, Miguel Canete, has warned that there is no “Plan B.” Leaders must develop a plan that cuts greenhouse gas emissions, expands renewable energy infrastructure and helps poor countries adapt to the environmental effects of climate change.

Mark your calendar and attend one of these local rallies to show your support for a meaningful new global climate agreement:

November 29: Hendersonville Rally for Climate Action

This rally takes place on steps of the Historic Courthouse in Hendersonville. The goal is to show leaders meeting in Paris that “our movement cannot be ignored, and we will accept nothing less than an ambitious climate deal, with a global commitment to 100 percent clean energy.” Read an article about the rally and the larger Global Climate March in the Hendersonville Times-News.

Date: November 29
Time: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Location: Hendersonville Historic Courthouse, 1 Historic Courthouse Sq # 4, Hendersonville, NC 28792
If the weather does not cooperate, we will gather in the meeting room on the second floor of the Historic County Courthouse. See you there!

November 29: Light Up the Night

Come to “Light Up the Night: A Vigil for the Paris Climate Talks” on November  29, 5:00 PM, at Grove Park on Charlotte Street across from St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, as we unite our hearts and longings for a good outcome for the Paris Climate Talks.  Join the Green Grannies in song as we hold candles and send our wishes to Paris in solidarity with events all over the world! Sponsored by 350Asheville and The Green Grannies. Contact palmtree747@gmail.com

Date: November 29
Time: 5:00 PM
Location: Grove Park on Charlotte Street, across from St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Asheville

December 6: People’s Pilgrimage for the Paris Climate Talks

The “People’s Pilgrimage for the Paris Climate Talks” will demonstrate with banners and signs, voices and feet in support of commitments from global powers to fight climate change. The public in invited to meet at the pavilion at Asheville’s Carrier Park on Amboy Road and walk two miles along the French Broad River to French Broad River Park. Along the way, supporters will stop at the river, a wetland, a contaminated parcel that is being reclaimed, and an electric power substation to hear about the sites and to share in music, poetry and prayer. This event is sponsored by the Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina.

Date: December 6
Time: 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Location: The pavilion at Carrier Park on Amboy Road, Asheville, NC


Make Duke Pay…for YOU to Save Energy and Money!

Energy efficiency might not be as exciting as solar power, but it’s the most affordable, most effective way for any household to save energy and money! Even simple weatherization (sealing all the cracks and holes in your house that waste about 30% of the energy that you pay for) can cut up to $480 annually off of utility bills!

There are lots of existing programs and incentives, many through Duke Energy, to help households, businesses and houses of worship save energy and money on monthly bills. It can be hard to find the right information and figure out where to start, but don’t worry, MountainTrue is here to help!

Find out more!

Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Sept. 29: Creation Care Alliance General Meeting

Sept. 29: Creation Care Alliance General Meeting

10/29: Creation Care Alliance General Meeting

First Baptist Church
5 Oak Street, Asheville
October 29, 5:30-7pm
All are welcome.

Special Guests Greg Yost from Circle of Mercy Congregation and Steve Norris will discuss how Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) tries to inform and infuse their political and environmental action with moral and spiritual power. Most recently, BXE organized an 18-day Fast For No New Permits in front of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington DC.

Steve and Greg will also provide background on how the issues Beyond Extreme Energy organizes around fit into the larger climate justice picture and how others may become involved. Steve and Greg have worked together on many projects since first getting to know one another in jail following a 2012 Bank Of America protest in Charlotte. Steve is a builder from Fairview and was formerly an instructor at Warren Wilson College teaching courses in environmentalism and social justice history. Greg is from Mars Hill and is a high school math teacher.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.