As REALTORS®, more and more we are educating ourselves about and facing environmental issues. One such issue is pollution. Pollution affects quality of life. And quality of life is important to our real estate clients and to all of us. This post is one in a series of posts on environmental issues having to do with water, water supply and rivers. Although local in outlook, the story touches everyone, so please tell us what's happening with your rivers.
Situation: The Pigeon River Watershed struggled to improve its water quality for at lest 30 years. The Clean Water Act of 1972 helped as did improvements in the Canton Paper Mill, So, over the years, the watershed began to feel the positive effects.
However, for the first time in just as long, the water quality in the Pigeon River now is suffering and is on the decline. In fact, the NC Division of Water Quality's latest assessment shows that the number of failing or impaired streams in the Pigeon River Watershed has increased by 60% from 2006 to 2008. And this is true not only of the Pigeon River, but Greater Asheville area's mighty French Broad River as well. (see photo I took of this spectacular river to your left.)
Causes: Many people are embarassed to say...Human... including industrial waste, dumping and soaring population growth. North Carolina's rising population is affecting our natural resources. According to RiverLink, the regional non-profit spearheading the economic and environmental revitalization of the French Broad River and its tributaries as a place to work, live and play,
- 21 people move to North Carolina (NC) every hour - more than 500 people per day.
- By 2030, NC's population will increase 50% to 12 million.
- At least 383 acres per day are converted to new roads, shopping malls and housing developments.
- NC leads the U.S. in lost farm and forest land - more than 1 million acres in 10 years.
But There's Plenty of Hope: Recently, at least one elected official accompanied by a group of paddlers, canoed the Pigeon River. They toured the paper mill, and performed health assessments that included monitoring sediment runoff and industrial pollution dumps, eroding construction sites, illegal mining, stormwater runoff, and effluent from the mill. They took water quality samples along the way. They noted that effluent from the mill all still have a major impact on the river. And they voiced concerns and charged the culprits.
According to RiverLink,
"Five major trash dumps and four sites with sediment and erosion control problems were uncovered. One trash dump was over 30 feet tall, but the culprit left behind their mail enabling us to track them down. The slime and sheen on Waterville Lake was another major area of concern. This lake acts as the end of the drain, catching and storing much of the pollution from the Canton paper mill and polluted stormwater runoff."
To see pictures and read more about the trip, visit RiverLink's BLOG
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