Save our beaches!
This is not about beach nourishment. Rather it is about an increasingly serious threat to the beaches of our area—namely, increasing bacterial pollution resulting in health advisories warning of possible danger from swimming.
Last summer some of our traditional swimming beaches were closed and it is getting worse this year. For example, the public beach access on Radio Island used by so many local families is showing repeated high levels of bacterial contamination, resulting in the posting of warnings. According to a recent News and Observer article by Staff Writer Wade Rawlins, as of July 23rd the state had issued 30 advisories, compared to 23 during the same period last year. Part of the problem is attributed to stormwater drains that discharge to the beaches. A special provision in the state budget directs the Dept. of Transportation to spend up to $15 million in the next year to clean up the water coming from the drainpipes.
J. D. Potts, manager of the Division of Environmental Health Recreational Water Quality Program, points out that, in addition to stormwater discharge, problems are caused by waste from pets and wildlife and moored boats that discharge sewage into the water.
Undoubtedly, this is a complicated issue which Crossroads is working to understand. It is disgraceful that we allow our water quality to continue to degrade. Crossroads has been working for years for better planning and regulations to protect our water quality, pointing to increased shellfish closures as evidence of a problem. Now not only are shellfish not healthy in our waters, it appears that increasingly, people should not swim in them!
This is another case of a stormwater problem that must be addressed by the county and other local governments as well as the state and federal governments.
It would seem that some of our Economic Development and Tourism Development officials would be demanding answers and remedial action. How can we have economic progress or sustain the tourism industry in our county if we lose our most precious asset—high quality water?
Phase II—the saga continues.
On July 12, 2004 the NC General Assembly ratified Senate Bill 1210 – Phase II Stormwater Management. The Environmental Management Commission (EMC) previously adopted temporary and permanent Phase II rules. However, in January 2004 the Rules Review Commission (RRC) objected to and returned the permanent rules to the EMC. The EMC and other parties have challenged the RRC’s decision.
The action of the RRC caused the earlier temporary rules to expire and prevented the permanent rules from becoming effective, leaving the state with no way to meet the NPDES Phase II requirements.
Although S 1210 provides a framework to allow state and local governments to begin implementing the program, it is a weak bill that will do little to carry out the aims of Phase II. It was adopted after vigorous lobbying by the NC Home Builders Assn. and the League of Counties. Environmental lobbyists were unable to influence the Assembly.
The bill applies new standards to 123 Phase Ii cities. It covers buffers around the 123 cities, ranging from 1 to 3 miles; and census tracts designated as urbanized in the 2000 census. Effective date for these standards ranges from 2007 to 2010.
A major problem is that it will direct development into those areas just outside the buffer area around cities, further encouraging sprawl and increasing costs of infrastructure. In short, it does little to really help with the problems of stormwater runoff.
Two if by sea.
Recently, we have had two strong warnings about the state of our oceans and suggestions as to how to correct the situation. However, unlike the case of Paul Revere, few people seem to be listening!
The Pew Oceans Commission presented their recommendations in a final report released in June, 2003.
The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy issued a preliminary report in April 2004. Both efforts were modeled after the Stratton Commission, which conducted the first comprehensive study of ocean policy in 1969.
It is important to note that both reports call for an ecosystem-based approach to managing the oceans and the fisheries. Managing fisheries, for example, one species at a time simply does not work. Also emphasized is the necessity to understand and protect habitat if we are to have healthy oceans and fisheries.
Both reports call for reform to address the health and sustainability of our ocean ecosystems. Both call for improving habitat conservation and restoration, improving quality of our coastal waters, guiding sustainable marine aquaculture and increasing ocean research.
The Pew report calls for establishing marine reserves while the U.S. Commission recommends adopting goals and guidelines leading to marine protected areas.
Both would reform fisheries management by going to an ecosystem approach where all factors are considered, not just single species.
Both call for improved ocean research.
The Pew Commission calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit the effects of climate change.
Perhaps a similar state effort will garner more attention—and be effective. The NC General Assembly in 1997 passed the Fisheries Reform Act to protect and enhance habitats that are vital to coastal fish and shellfish. The Act mandated the cooperation of the Environmental Management, Coastal Resources and Marine Fisheries Commissions to prepare and adopt a plan that protects and restores the critical coastal habitats and to enact rules to implement the plan.
This effort has led to the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan (CHPP) which has been released as a draft and will be presented to the commissions this fall in final form. There has been wide public input into the effort and it is hoped that all citizens will support the final plan.
The draft plan contains recommendations to
We encourage all citizens to follow the progress of the plan and support the adoption of a workable plan to achieve these goals.
Thank You! to Bruce and Katie Ethridge, who, besides being Life Members, have made a substantial further donation to Crossroads. We encourage other Life Members to continue to support us in this way.
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We welcome G. Allen “Al” Fox as our newest Board member. Al has been a resident of Cape Carteret since 1995. He retired as a Development Engineer with Mobil in upstate New York. He is an active member of the Izaac Walton League and is currently Chairman of the Cape Carteret Zoning Board of Appeals.
Local conservationists were well represented when the NC Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards were announced recently.
Congratulations to Braden Rawls, a West Carteret High School student and daughter of former Board members Bill Rawls and Meg Rawls for winning the Youth Conservationist Award.
Congratulations also to Todd Miller and the NC Coastal Federation for winning the Land Conservation Award.