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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.

Join us Sept. 19: Water, Democracy, & Justice

Registration Now Open!

Clean Water for NC’s Annual Public Meeting
Saturday, September 19, 1:30-4:30PM
Greensboro, North Carolina

$10 for current CWFNC members and students; $25 non-member registration
$35 to register and join or renew your membership

Come join us for an afternoon of lively presentations on a range of NC Environmental Justice issues! Refreshments will be served. Here’s the link to register today!

Featured Guest Speakers:

Demeeko Williams, Detroit Water Brigade – The human right to water

Tracey Edwards, NAACP & Appalachian Voices - The coming together of Stokes County communities to fight fracking and coal ash

Linda Sutton, Democracy NC – Environmental Justice and working for voting rights are the same struggle

Updates on Hot Issues from CWFNC:

Preventing Impacts of Fracking and Coal Ash, Tackling Water Privatization and EJ Threats in NC Indigenous Communities

Click here to register now!

A Chance to Clean Up the Worst of HB765, the “Polluter Protection Bill”—Take Action!

The public was so fired up by the outrageous provisions added by the Senate to House Bill 765 that even the most pro-polluter Representatives heard from their constituents and agreed that the Senate had taken a simple gravel-hauling bill and created a monster. On July 22, the full House voted 99 to zero NOT to concur with the Senate’s version of the bill! This vote sent the bill to a Conference Committee for negotiations between the House and Senate, now underway—so NOW they need to hear from YOU!

The Conferees chosen to negotiate for the House have been appointed, Representatives McElraft (Chair), Arp, Stam, Goodman, Hager, McGrady, Torbett, and Yarborough), are mostly Republicans, but remember they all voted AGAINST HB 765 in its current form.

The Conferees chosen by the Senate to negotiate include some of the most rabidly anti-environmental/anti-regulatory members, some of them famous for their work on “rush to frack” legislation. They are Senators Trudy Wade (Chair) Brock, Rucho, Jackson, Alexander, McInnis, and Bingham.

Whether or not you are a constituent of these legislators, we urge you to use the links above or this handy list of all conference committee members to call or email them and ask them to remove damaging parts of this bill:

  • Groundwater contamination: Expansion of NC’s “risk-based remediation program,” gives polluters a way to get out of cleaning up contaminated groundwater
  • 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 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 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!

See the bill here.

Come back to www.cwfnc.org again for updates and key talking points, and watch your email for updates (you can join our email list by clicking here!)

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.