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Flood Warning: Streamlining Regs & Filling Streams
SoundRivers: SB131 Will Hurt Neuse
March 23, 2017

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Neuse Riverkeeper warns that a bill now before the NC legislature “would open the door for worse flooding” along the Neuse and other rivers.
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Neuse River in Pamlico County at normal water levels.

Matthew Starr, Upper Neuse Riverkeeper with the group, SoundRivers, (a merger of the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico River Foundations) says that currently, developers who fill in streams 150 feet long, have to make good. They pay into a state mitigation fund ostensibly to restore water quality in that area.

The bill now before the Legislature, SB131, would allow land developers to destroy streams – up to 300 feet – without any consequence. If SB131 passes, only those who destroy streams 301 feet or longer would have to, as Starr puts it, “pay to pollute.”

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Part of SB131 that would change the rule on streams. Click here for more.

Those stream beds are important, Starr says, because they absorb excess nutrients in the water before it flows in to the bigger river. And by giving water a place to collect, the stream beds also help with downstream flood control on rivers such as the Neuse.

Making it easier to reduce the number of streams, he says, would make for “worse flooding.. guaranteed.”

ln an interview Thursday, Matthew Starr called it “mind-blowing” that legislators from eastern NC would want to loosen the standards, just “months after the worst flooding in recorded history” in Neuse River towns such as Kinston and Goldsboro.

Senator Norman Sanderson, ( R ), Arapahoe is one of 3 primary sponsors of SB 131. Titled, Regulatory Reform Act of 2016-2017, it now numbers 44 pages and is aka An Act To Provide Further Regulatory Relief To The Citizens of North Carolina.

(Among the other relief offered, a provision to “Eliminate Annual Report On Fish Kill Activity by The Department of Environmental Quality.” )

Sanderson, whose district includes Craven and Carteret counties along with Pamlico, voted for SB131 as it cleared the NC Senate last week, 38-11. (Republicans have a 35-15 majority in that chamber.) SB131 is now working its way through the NC House which the GOP also controls.

Matthew Starr says it is not just streams but surface waters of the winding Neuse River itself that could more readily be filled in if SB131 passes as now written. Passage could happen as early as next week, he says.

SoundRivers is asking that residents concerned about an increased risk of flooding, contact their state representatives In the NC House, now.

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NC House’s 3rd District, the most downstream point of both the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers.

Representative Michael Speciale, ® New Bern represents Pamlico, Craven and Beaufort counties. His legislative website lists the following contact info 919-733-5853 252-635-5326 Michael.Speciale@ncleg.net

As the Upper Neuse Riverkeeper for SoundRivers, Matthew Starr is based in the Triangle, 275 miles upriver from where the Neuse flows in to the Pamlico Sound.. If SB131 passes, and more streams are filled, the impacts of more flooding or nutrient overload could happen anywhere along river, though he notes, “everything goes downstream to you” at the end of the Neuse, in Oriental.

Posted Thursday March 23, 2017 by Melinda Penkava


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