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Groups work to protect area water supplies

Posted June 25, 2008

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— The Triangle Land Conservancy announced Wednesday that it has purchased 92 acres in northern Durham County to protect a stream that feeds Falls Lake.

The announcement came as representatives of the nonprofit group met with officials from Wake, Durham and Orange counties to discuss progress in the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative. The partnership between area governments and environmental groups is designed to protect water supplies in the Upper Neuse River basin by preserving areas from development.

The conservancy acquired 92 acres of the former Stagville Plantation near Bahama from Arlen Park LLC for an undisclosed sum. A stream that cuts across almost three-quarters of a mile of the property flows into Falls Lake, which serves as the primary reservoir for Raleigh and six Wake County towns.

The land is adjacent to the conservancy's Horton Grove Nature Preserve and the Stagville Historic Site.

"This is a doubly valuable project, not only from (the standpoint of) historic preservation but also from water quality," said Kevin Brice, executive director of the conservancy. "If we can keep (tributaries) clean, we'll keep the reservoirs clean."

Raleigh has invested more than $2 million so far to protect land in the lake's watershed, Mayor Charles Meeker said, and another $1.5 million was included in the fiscal 2009 budget that the City Council approved Monday. A "nutrient-reduction fee" paid by new development finances the program, he said.

"We have to work together as a region because the water comes from all over the Triangle, not just from Wake County," Meeker said. "That's the reason Raleigh is taking steps, not just in Wake County but also in Durham and Orange counties."

Since its inception three years ago, the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative has spent $19 million to preserve 17,000 acres and 17 miles of streams that feed area reservoirs. The partnership is negotiating the purchase of another 26 tracts totaling 3,900 acres and 39 miles of streams for about $27 million.

Curtis Richardson, a professor of resource ecology at Duke University and director of Duke's Wetlands Center, said the land-preservation strategy is smart. Water can be cleaner and the natural areas that are retained can help prevent droughts because rainwater sinks into the ground rather than running off hard surfaces from development, he said.

"This is a start, and this is a very good start," Richardson said.


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  • Jeremiah Jun 25, 2008

    Colliedave, you're obviously not a mathematician.

  • giffman Jun 25, 2008


  • Steve Crisp Jun 25, 2008

    17,000 acres. Six houses per acre assuming that all the acreage is converted eventually to residential property. That's over 100,000 residences. At $200K per residence, that is over $200 million dollars in tax base that has just been removed from the rolls.

  • whatusay Jun 25, 2008

    If someone wanted to build a resort on this land and use eminent domain to purchase the land (because it would create jobs and provide taxs revenues) what could/would the city do? Eminent domain has been used if it is in the "best" interest of the public, and what could be more important than jobs and taxes?

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Jun 25, 2008

    Localyokel.....you actually have problems with boating in our area lakes? yes this IS government funds! I recently worked on a project where a single person wanted to re-zone a property so he can start a small business. THIS fee for him was almost $7000 for less than an acre where he wasn't doing anything to the property....so really, you think this is just magic money that falls out of the sky?

  • Beachnut Jun 25, 2008

    I find it amazing that private sector nonprofit groups have outspent the City of Raleigh ten-fold to protect Raleigh's only major source of drinking water.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Jun 25, 2008

    colliedave, it's actually only about $1000/acre. I'm OK with the money being spent this way, but I'm a little bit less OK with how they are collecting it. It's really another hidden tax on property owners that are trying to improve thier property, and that cost is passed on to the consumer.

  • LocalYokel Jun 25, 2008

    its a shame the average person (government) doesnt realize the importance of this and its not paid for by government funds. I am glad to live in an area that some citizens are willing to step up and do the right thing. Its still awkward that we use our water supply as recreational area though and anyone can access it. This group may protect an inlet from pollution but some motorboat is spewing oil (or maybe biological weapons) in our drinking water right now.

  • colliedave Jun 25, 2008

    To date, the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative has spent $19 million to preserve 17,000 acres and 17 miles of streams that feed area reservoirs

    OK, the cost is over one million dollars per acre. How is the money being spent? How do we know it is not being spent the way it was in in Wake Solid Waste Management?

  • Frank Downtown Jun 25, 2008

    Very good idea! It also creates more parks and in twenty years every one will appreciate it when this area becomes a hugh metro area.