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Upcoming Events

August 12, 6PM, Pittsboro. Public hearing on draft modified permit for Brickhaven mine fill project. Chatham County Historic Courthouse, 9 Hillsboro St., Pittsboro. Speaker registration begins at 5 p.m. Click here for permit info.

Oppose new "mega-bill" - catastrophic for NC water & air!

ACT NOW: Ask your state legislators to oppose H765!

This week, the NC General Assembly will consider House Bill 765, the “Regulatory Reform Act of 2015,” a laundry list of damaging provisions shoved into one mega-bill with serious consequences for environmental justice!

Please call your state Rep today, and urge them to OPPOSE H765, to protect the abilities of North Carolina communities to protect themselves and hold polluters accountable! (Click here for your legislators’ contact info).

A few of the harmful changes to state law in the Senate’s newly modified version:

  • Groundwater contamination: Expansion of NC’s “risk-based remediation program,” giving polluters a way to get out of cleaning up contaminated groundwater and preventing its spread to neighboring properties.
  • Privatized wastewater inspection and permitting: An option for private engineering firms to inspect and permit on-site wastewater systems (like septic systems), currently the duty of local health departments–removing key oversight by environmental health officials.
  • Legal fees: Attorneys representing environmental, civic, and community organizations would be subject to fees if they lose a case against the state, making it harder for community groups to find legal representation to challenge weak state environmental permits and other regulations.
  • Air quality: Removal of all air quality monitors in NC not specifically required by EPA, significantly reducing the number of these important environmental monitoring stations in the state!
  • PLUS: changes to rules protecting wetlands, preventing stormwater runoff from development, how Brownfields are defined, and more!
  • See the bill here.

This bill would have a wide-ranging and detrimental effect on water and air quality, protections for North Carolinians against polluters, and would benefit industry at the expense of our shared environment! Please call your state Rep and Senator now and urge them to oppose H765.

Public Water Systems Show Little Appetite for Privatization, Despite Hefty Debts

by Jennifer Weaver, Water & Energy Justice Researcher

In recent weeks, CWFNC has been looking into the challenges that North Carolina’s publicly owned water utilities face as they try to maintain the present systems and plan for the future – all while keeping it possible for water customers to pay.

We made contact with town and county managers handling systems that are struggling financially, and, in several cases, have also received water quality violations. We asked each respondent to share the biggest challenges they faced in operating their system, anything that would make those operations easier for them, and whether they were considering privatization as an alternative to their current, publicly owned and operated status to raise some capital to pay off debts.

Six out of eight of the local government staff we’ve spoken to so far expressed opposition to privatizing their system, and some were emphatically against privatization. When asked whether his county would ever consider privatizing its water system, one county manager said “Not for a minute!” And while one Water Department Supervisor said he’d consider privatization among other possibilities for a small ailing water system, no one was fully in favor of privatization! Reasons included:

1) wanting to maintain control–water/sewer decisions are a primary way to control development;
2) the environment and public health are too sensitive to risk outsourcing
3) wanting to prevent losing local jobs.

drinking-waterThese systems really struggle with keeping rates low enough for their residents to afford, yet high enough to take care of repairs and maintenance and operating costs. It’s no coincidence that most of these financially challenged systems are small–an economy of scale to cover costs viable simply isn’t achievable with few customers. More rural (typically county-wide) systems struggle with the dual problem of low density and a small number of customers. These systems have miles of water supply lines to build and maintain that connect very few users, so costs are higher per customer than denser areas, while income is small.

For the systems with multiple violations, changes to state water quality standards have added another financial burden. Every time standards are strengthened, water systems must invest tens of thousands of dollars (or more) to adjust their treatment or retrofit their systems, frequently receiving more violations as they figure it out. Because a publicly owned system’s purpose is to provide a service rather than earn profits, public water utilities struggle with the need to keep rates affordable while still providing quality water.

These interviews show NC is part of the nationwide, growing trend of cities rejecting privatization in search of better solutions for their residents! Prioritizing funding for public water systems is more important than ever to keep water resources in public hands.

Fracking Stories film screenings June 4, 9, 17

Clean Water for NC is partnering with Working Films, Appalachian Voices, and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League to host screenings of this compilation of six short documentaries across the state. “Fracking Stories” features clips that explore the public health and environmental consequences of fracking and the ways that communities are coming together to protect themselves. We hope you’ll join us for one of the upcoming events!

Fracking Stories banner

Wednesday, June 17, Salisbury
7:00 p.m.

Rowan Public Library, 201 W Fisher St. (Directions)
Co-sponsored by CWFNC and Working Films
Facebook event

For a full calendar of the tour visit Working Films’ blog.

Hear from communities directly impacted by water privatization in CWFNC’s new video!

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be one of the hundreds of thousands of rural and suburban North Carolinians whose basic access to drinking water or sewage treatment is controlled by a private, for-profit corporation? Put yourself in the shoes of a private water or sewer customer, hearing directly from folks in three neighborhoods in the Carolinas about the daily effects on their lives, in Clean Water for NC’s new nine-minute YouTube video.

This video explores the failures of state regulatory agencies to hold private water and sewer giants, such as Aqua North Carolina and Utilities Inc., accountable to providing good service at a reasonable cost. You’ll see how folks are coming together to have more of a voice in decisions about their communities’ water service.

Please share this video with anyone you know who is concerned about the right to clean, safe, affordable water, and visit cwfnc.org/water-justice to sign up for action alerts to help private water customers find solutions and prevent additional privatization of NC communities’ water supplies! If you’re interested in hosting a viewing party in your community, contact Katie@cwfnc.org or 828-251-1291.

View and share the video on YouTube here.

Help share it on social media, too!

Sample Facebook post: Put yourself in the shoes of a private water or sewer customer, hearing directly from folks in three neighborhoods in the Carolinas about the daily effects on their lives, in Clean Water for NC’s new nine-minute YouTube video: https://youtu.be/A2qfihl97o8.

Sample Twitter post: new @CleanWaterforNC video shows how water #privatization impacts NC communities. View it here: https://youtu.be/A2qfihl97o8.