TAKE ACTION: Put a Pause on Lick Creek Developments!

ACTION ALERT, Environmental, Sound Rivers

Posted on January 17th, 2023


We need your help to protect water quality in the Lick Creek watershed! Insufficient regulation of new developments continues to cause water-quality pollution in Lick Creek. Please contact Durham City Council and ask them to pump the breaks on new developments in the Lick Creek watershed until stronger protections can be adopted to prevent sediment from pouring off developments into Lick Creek.

Since June of 2022, Sound Rivers’ Neuse Riverkeeper has reported on a severe sediment pollution issue caused by a wave of new developments surrounding Lick Creek, an impaired waterway in southeast Durham that empties into the nutrient-sensitive drinking water supply of Falls Lake Reservoir. Over the past seven months, Sound Rivers has recorded turbidity levels far greater than legal standards and has documented sediment running off of development sites into nearby waterways. This sediment pollution is caused by an unprecedented number of large developments being built in the Lick Creek watershed — an issue compounded by the unique, Triassic Basin clay soils that are especially susceptible to erosion and sediment runoff. This kind of sediment pollution can impact the quality of streams and rivers, smother aquatic habitat and reduce fish populations, and negatively impact the quality of drinking water sources.

Thankfully, Durham officials are taking some steps to strengthen sediment and erosion control measures, but we are concerned that the rest of the Lick Creek watershed will be developed before these protections come into place.

Right now, Durham city and county officials are working to advance two text amendments to the Durham Unified Development Ordinance (UDO): one that would require stronger measures be put in place to prevent sediment runoff, and another that would limit mass grading and require more trees be left on the landscape. These protections are desperately needed in the sensitive and impaired Lick Creek watershed, but new developments should not be approved until these added protections are in place!

Unfortunately, next week, another large chunk of land along Lick Creek is on the chopping block. On Tuesday, Jan. 17, the Durham City Council will once again decide the fate of a 280-acre parcel of forested land along Lick Creek. This is one of the last remaining large swathes of undeveloped parcels in the Lick Creek watershed, and if the development is approved by Durham City Council, the land would be converted into subdivisions. This is the same proposal that was denied by the Durham Planning Board, and also turned away by Durham City Council last year. Sound Rivers is concerned that clear-cutting and paving over this large swath of creek-side land will contribute more dirt to an already impaired Lick Creek.

Please help us prevent further degradation of Lick Creek by contacting Durham City Council and asking them to put a pause on more developments in the 14.8-square-mile Lick Creek watershed until two new UDO amendments can be put in place and clean-water protections guaranteed!


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