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Lake Wateree Covekeepers, Citizens Stand Up for Water Quality Regulations at Planning and Zoning Board Meeting

Lake Wateree Covekeepers, Citizens Stand Up for Water Quality Regulations at Planning and Zoning Board Meeting

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Agenda item considered eliminating buffers, other protections for Kershaw County

Lake Wateree Covekeepers, Citizens Stand Up for Water Quality Regulations at Planning and Zoning Board Meeting

Lake Wateree Covekeeper Sarah Williams powerfully opens up the public comment session.

On Monday, February 9, dozens of citizens rallied and packed the Kershaw County Government Center for a Planning & Zoning Commission meeting with a very important agenda item. Like other counties throughout the Catawba-Wateree River Basin, Kershaw County has its own water quality regulations – one for the overall county and one for Lake Wateree specifically. However, these regulations had recently come under attack. There were discussions of removing various provisions or even nixing the regulations altogether. This would be a tremendous setback in protecting and in trying to improve waterways already polluted and listed as “impaired.”

These regulations outline requirements for activities that can affect water quality. The regulations detail the requirements for various buffers, which are areas around waterways that need to be left undisturbed to help improve water quality. There are multiple other provisions in the regulations designed to keep sediment and excessive nutrients out of waterways.

With such important regulations under fire, citizens from both Kershaw and Fairfield Counties attended the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting to make sure commissioners knew the public was aware that such regulations were important to them. Lake Wateree Covekeeper Sarah Williams was the first public speaker. She asked the audience to stand up if they agreed with her statements. Just about the entire room stood up after her initial statements describing the importance of water quality regulations. After additional speakers, the Commission voted to leave the regulations as they were. Citizens were a voice of reason, swiftly and boldly meeting an attack on sensible regulations for maintaining and improving our waterways.

If anything, water quality regulations throughout the basin need to be improved, especially with waterways that continued to be impaired and with ever-increasing issues from stormwater (both for active construction site runoff and for post-construction runoff).

After years of progress, water quality regulations have been under attack, but what happened in Kershaw County is evidence that when citizens take a well-organized stand and participate in local government, it can have a tremendous impact.

Thank you to everyone who came out and to the Kershaw County Planning & Zoning Commission for recognizing the economic, recreational and environmental reasons to protect our most critical natural resource.

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From the perspectives of 12 NC Riverkeepers, this report discusses how multiple environmental issues pose challenges in the pursuit of clean, plentiful water. Whether you are in North Carolina or downstream in South Carolina, read this report about the state of environmental enforcement.
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The Community Foundation will fund Catawba Riverkeeper's work in Gaston County.
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Fish consumption advisories have been issued throughout the Catawba-Wateree River basin.  Many of these advisories are the result of testing initiated by Catawba Riverkeeper and confirmed by state and local officials.  For a chart identifying fish types with the applicable advisories for the Charlotte area, click here.   For more information about the fish advisories, click here.

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