Neuse Riverkeeper: Sedimentation “poison flowing into the lake”

Environmental, Neuse River Watershed, Stormwater Issues, Stormwater Runoff, Water Quality

Posted on January 18th, 2024

A clear line of sediment delineates water flowing from Lick Creek past Rolling View Marina into Falls Lake.

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop was back in the air again this week, to check out the state of Lick Creek, and what she observed was disturbing.

“It was probably the most extreme I have seen the sediment pollution. The entire length of Lick Creek, all the way down to Rolling View Marina on Falls Lake, was orange. There was a stark contrast between the sediment-filled water flowing from Lick Creek and the non-sediment filled water deeper into Falls Lake,” Sam said. “It looks like poison flowing into the lake.”

Joining Sam and volunteer South Wings pilot Rolf Wallin was Irena Como, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, who has been working with Sound Rivers on the sedimentation-pollution lawsuit against a Durham developer.

A wider view of the Sweetbrier housing development currently under construction.
The closer view of a low-lying area on the outskirts of the Sweetbrier housing development, inundated with sediment-filled runoff from the clear-cut land.

“Like everyone who has the opportunity to see this from the sky, Irena was taken aback by its extremeness. Even though has been working closely with us on the Lick Creek issue, and is very familiar with the amount of erosion and sedimentation caused by these huge developments, to see the extent of it from above is staggering,” Sam said.

From the air, Sam said, the impact of Durham development is clear.

“It’s appalling to see the extent of the really violent land-clearing going on, all at the same time,” she said. “In one development, there is more than 100 acres of clear-cut, exposed land, and we could see the branches — smaller waterways — flowing through these construction sites and getting more and more orange as it went. The whole of southeast Durham stands out. Other developments have trees, but below you, all you can see for miles is cookie-cutter houses with very few trees and clear-cut areas.”

Sam said she’ll continue to encourage Durham residents to call on their city council members to address the erosion/sedimentation issue.

“Even though we have seen the city pass new regulations to address these concerns, we’re not seeing an impact on the ground,” she said. “Until we see an impact, we’re going to continue calling on city council to protect our waterways from this onslaught.”

A stream flowing through the Fowler Tract turns orange as it collects sediment from the clear-cut land.
The mouth of Lick Creek, as it flows into Falls Lake.
Southern Environmental Law Center Attorney Irena Como and Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop before takeoff on Wednesday.

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