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Sediment Problems Force Delay On Highway 64 Bypass

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WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — The Highway 64 Bypass project is on hold because contractors did a poor job of keeping muddy water from eroding the land and pouring into streams, but, researchers at North Carolina State say the solution may be "dirt bags."

North Carolina State soil scientists say the "dirt bag" system starts by collecting standing water. A chemical is added that speeds the process of settling sediment. The water then passes through the big bag. Clean water flows out on the other end.

"It can be done. It's going to take some time to get the expertise to get the technical background for everybody, so we can get these things out there, but we're on our way," said Richard McLaughlin, a researcher at North Carolina State University.

The state Department of Transportation is already using the N.C. State technology on a road construction project in Charlotte. McLaughlin said the "dirt bag" has other uses as well.

"We'll have cleaner water to drink. We'll have better habitats in our streams, better fishing, less expense in treating water," McLaughlin said.

N.C. State researchers say the dirt bag can be set up for as little as $100.

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