NC Supreme Court rules against Blounts Creek

Advocacy, Environmental, Sound Rivers, Tar-Pamlico Watershed, Water Quality

Posted on September 7th, 2023

Blounts Creek is pictured early morning during fall.

On Sept. 1, the North Carolina Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision, opening the door for a mining company to discharge millions of gallons per day into Blounts Creek.

“The state is required to protect our waterways, but this ruling proves the court is not looking out for Blounts Creek, the interests of the people who love it and depend on it, nor the species that live in this very unique environment. It’s unfortunate they don’t think all that’s worth protecting,” said Sound Rivers Executive Director Heather Deck.

In 2013, the Southern Environmental Law Center filed the complaint on behalf of Sound Rivers and N.C. Coastal Federation, stating that a water-pollution permit issued by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality would not protect Blounts Creek, permanently altering the creek’s flow, its pH and its diversity of fish and high-quality fish habitats. The permit would allow Martin Marietta Materials’ limestone mine to discharge up to 12 million gallons of fresh water per day into the popular fishing creek and tributary in Beaufort County.

The permit has since expired, and it is unclear whether the company will have to apply for another.

Despite the ruling in favor of industry, Heather says the past 10 years have been a lesson in how passionate the people of Blounts Creek are about clean water and protecting the creek and the many species that call it home.

“The Save Blounts Creek movement — those who started it and stuck with it for more than a decade — is proof of how much people care about the natural environment,” Heather said. “We could not have waged this battle without their continuous support, and the fact that it took 10 years to come to a conclusion is testament of the power of a community coming together to hold the state accountable for protecting our waterways.”

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