September 14, 2017/Press

CFPUA Board: NCGA Needs to Step up and Protect Our Rivers

Raleigh – At a recent meeting, Cape Fear Public Utilities Authority board member Kevin O’Grady directly called on the NC General Assembly for “more robust regulations, more funding for the regulators” to help clean up our rivers.

That’s exactly what Governor Cooper, DEQ and DHHS have been fighting for. The General Assembly, on the other hand, continues to play politics with people’s drinking water, choosing to drag their heels and offer minimal funding that doesn’t even go to the state’s top regulators.

Here’s why DEQ & DHHS have requested help from the General Assembly to clean up our rivers:

  • Since 2010, DEQ has had 70 positions cut by austere budget cutsfrom the General Assembly – a 41 percent reduction in water quality and water resources staff.
  • DEQ only has nine permit writers to cover 220 facilities; for comparison, South Carolina has twice as many writers (17) but 60 fewer facilities to cover (159).

DEQ is already getting results. DEQ successfully sued Chemours last week to stop the discharge of GenX and two other compounds into our waterways. But more funding is needed to reverse General Assembly cuts to water protection so DEQ can better protect our waterways statewide.

Which is why Gov. Cooper, DEQ and DHHS have requested:

  • $2 million to DEQ to do long-term water testing on our rivers and rehire 16 experts – engineers, environmental specialists, and chemists – cut by General Assembly budget cuts.
  • $530,000 to DHHS to stand up a new Water Health and Safety Unit with experts and resources to monitor water quality.

So far, the NC General Assembly has offered a drop in the bucket compared to what’s actually needed – just $435,000 – and none of that money goes to the state regulators best positioned to help the entire area.

“We need more robust regulations and more funding for our state’s regulators to help clean up our waterways,” NCDP Executive Director Kimberly Reynold said. “There’s only one side taking that seriously, and that’s Governor Cooper and the state. The General Assembly needs to get on board or explain to people why they’re playing politics with clean water.”