Riverkeeper: Amended Durham ordinance not enough to protect creek

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

Posted on June 1st, 2023

A tributary of Lick Creek bleeds red soil into the impaired waterway after a rain.

The state Sedimentation and Erosion Control Commission amped up its requirements to stop sedimentation caused by Durham development, but Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop fears the measures fall short.

“The state sediment erosion and commission passed an important amendment to address ongoing sediment pollution in southeast Durham, however this amendment will not go far enough to address the pollution,” Sam said.

For the past year, Sam has been tracking the sedimentation caused by clear-cutting land to make way for many developments, and watching local waterways — Lick Creek in particular — change dramatically with every rain, beginning to fill in with the amount of soil being washed into the creeks.

“We continue to record turbidity levels far above state standards on a monthly basis,” Sam said.

Turbidity is the relative clarity of a liquid, measured by the amount of light scattered by material in water when the light is shined through it. The higher the number, the less light is penetrating the water, which decimates ecological productivity, recreational values and habitats for fish and other aquatic life.

Sam and Sound Rivers weighed in with recommendations for the amended ordinance, and are disappointed that they were not accepted.

“The comments we submitted were not included on the final draft. We asked for larger sedimentation basins that can accommodate more rain, and also faster turnaround on replacing ground cover that could go farther to keep soil intact,” Sam said. “So, my take is, essentially, the amended ordinance will be a helpful start, but will not go far enough to address the serious sedimentation issues that we have been documenting in southeast Durham’s lick creek watershed. This amendment specifically focuses a great deal on the Triassic basin soils because of the work that we have done drawing attention to issues in Lick Creek, so it is a direct response to our work, but doesn’t go far enough.” 

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