Join North Carolina’s Riverkeepers in calling on state regulators to modernize its public notification system.
Millions of people across North Carolina take to our beaches, rivers and lakes to cool off, swim, paddle, and fish, but most are unaware that nearly 16 million gallons of untreated sewage has spilled into our waterways during a two and a half month period (May 17 to July 30) according to data collected by North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
North Carolina desperately needs to update its public spill notification system. Current state law requires operators of wastewater collection and treatment systems to notify DEQ of spills of over 1,000 gallons into surface waters and to send a press release to local media within 24 hours. For spills of over 15,000 gallons, operators are required to place a notice in the newspapers of counties impacted by the spill within 10 days (NCGS 143-215.1C). Spills of other pollutants have similar reporting requirements to DEQ.
North Carolina should not be depending on ads in print newspapers to get the word out about dangerous spills. Newspapers are not mandated to run the press releases, and many local newspapers are only published in print on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, which is not frequent enough to warn river users of water quality problems in a timely manner.
The public has the right to know about major pollution spills that impact our waterways as soon as possible, and through the technology the public uses today. Join North Carolina’s Riverkeepers in calling for a better, more modern system that would:
- Publish spill data to an online database and interactive map and on agency social media channels
- Send email and text alerts to interested parties.
- Allow the public to sign up to receive these alerts for the watersheds that they are interested in.
Update: City of Asheville Agrees to Stormwater Task Force!
UPDATE: Great News: More than 800 of you took action and helped make a difference for the French Broad River!
Asheville City Staff have committed to working with local clean water advocates to set up a Stormwater Task Force. The task force will analyze where and how the City’s stormwater infrastructure can be improved, and will put together an action plan to fix the problems.
This is an important step for the French Broad and the communities and businesses that depend on it. Please take a moment to thank members of City Council and City Staff for being responsive to the public. It’s important for them to hear that we appreciate them taking action, but that we also expect them to honor and work toward implementing the recommendations of the task force.
Prior Action Alert
Call on Asheville City Council to do its part to clean up the French Broad River, starting with the establishment of a Stormwater Task Force to address the City’s water pollution problems. Not only does the City have a legal obligation to protect water quality, Council’s commitment to racial equity demands action to protect residents of the Southside neighborhood from the highest pollution levels in the city.
Throughout the spring, summer and fall, MountainTrue conducts weekly bacteria sampling along the French Broad River and posts the results at swimguide.com. In 2019, this program made headlines as more than half of the sites (53%) failed to meet the EPA’s E. coli standard for safe recreation. This year, the results are even worse, with 69% of the sites failing. With climate change causing heavier and more frequent storms, this problem will only get worse.
|French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson taking water samples from Nasty Branch, a stream that flows through the Southside neighborhood that has, on average, the highest E. coli levels in the French Broad River Basin.|
Our river is a public resource, and tens of thousands of people recreate on the French Broad every year. However, none of the testing sites within the City of Asheville pass the EPA’s safe limit on average, and the worst site that we test is Nasty Branch, which drains over half of downtown Asheville and flows through the historically African American Southside neighborhood, before discharging into the French Broad River in the River Arts District.
High levels of E. coli also indicate the presence of other, more harmful microbes, such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Shigella, and norovirus. Heavy rains and storms often result in spikes in E. coli contamination, increasing the risk to human health. Contact with or consumption of contaminated water can cause gastrointestinal illness and skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections. The most commonly reported symptoms are stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and low-grade fever.
Asheville City Council has a moral and legal responsibility under the Clean Water Act to protect our river and water quality for all city residents. City of Hendersonville staff* has already committed to establishing a Stormwater Task Force, Asheville should too.
* We previously incorrectly said that Henderson County was setting up a Stormwater Task Force. We have corrected this page and the letter to Asheville City Council to reflect the fact that City of Hendersonville staff has committed to establishing a task force and tacking storm water pollution issues.
Take Action To Protect The Clean Water Act From Polluters
Our clean water is in danger. In the midst of the pandemic, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has snuck in proposed amendments to the Clean Water Act that would have detrimental effects on public health, natural systems, and the economy. These amendments would change the definition of “waters of the United States” to mean fewer wetlands and bodies of water would be under federal protection. The amendments could easily go unnoticed because they have been named the “Navigable Waters Protection Rule,” despite these rules doing anything but protecting our water.
The culture of Western North Carolina is intertwined with water, with recreation and local economies both heavily reliant on water-based activities. MountainTrue’s Clean Water Team works hard to monitor and improve the quality of water in the region, but this rule would create a huge challenge for our daily work.
Protect Our Rivers By Supporting Sustainable Farms
We have compiled this map of farms in our region that feed us without threatening rivers, lakes and streams. The inventory at these farms varies, but they all have one thing in common: They’re going the extra mile to do things the right way.
Farms are color-coded by watershed. Click the pinpoints on the map to view a description of each farm.
To see the farms listed by watershed, click the icon on the top left of the map or scroll below.
Many small farms in Western North Carolina have lost business due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition, large-scale meat operations in North Carolina are one of the leading contributors to water pollution in the state. Buying from sustainable local farms now is a way to not only feed your family but to protect our fragile environment.
Many farmers are still happy to have people come out to their farms. Check their websites or Facebook pages, because these small farms may request that you order over the phone or online to arrange pick-up. If you aren’t able to buy directly from a farmer, be sure to look for their products at farmer’s markets and grocery stores in your neighborhood, as many supply to local distributors. We have not included farms that are currently closed to the public.
To build our impact, sign the pledge to support sustainable farms below!
Sustainable Farms List
- Belflower Farm
- Beam Family Farms
- Colfax Creek Farm
- Greene Family Farm
- Hardscrabble Hollow Farm
- Martins’ Charolais Farm
- Piedmont Homestead
- Proffitt Family Cattle Company
- A Way of Life Farm
French Broad Watershed
- Cold Mountain Angus Beef
- Creekside Farm at Walnut Cove
- Farmhouse Beed
- Frog Holler Organiks
- Gaining Ground Farm
- Hickory Nut Gap Farm
- Hominy Valley Farms
- Leatherwood Family Farm
- Lenoir’s Creek Beef and Bakery
- Sunburst Trout Farms®
- Shady Brook Farm
- Smoky Mountain Mangalista
- Sunburst Beef LLC
- Ten Acre Garden
Green River Watershed
- Looking Glass Creamery
- Once Upon a Cow Micro Dairy
- San Felipe Farm
- Sunny Creek Farms
- Bearded Birds Farm
Hiwassee River Watershed
- 7M Family Farms, LLC
- Brothers on Farms
- SMM Farms
- Walnut Hollow Ranch – Premium Black Angus Beef
Upper Tennessee River Watershed
- 4 Corners Ranch
Little Tennessee River Watershed
- Breedlove Family Farms
- Carringer Farms
- Darnell Farms
- Deal Family Farm
- Gnome Mountain Farm
- J.W. Mitchell Farm
- JAAR Farms
- Pine Row Farm
- Yellow Branch Pottery and Cheese
Watauga River Watershed
- A Bushel and a Peck Farm
- Against the Grain Farm
- Beach Farm and Nursery
- Creeksong Farm
- Daffodil Spring Farm
- Faith Mountain Farm
- Fire from the Mountain
- New Life Farm
- North Fork Farm
- Shipley Farms Signature Beef
- Sunshine Cove
- Heritage Homestead Farm
- Asa Acres
- Aunt Bessie’s Natural Farm