Local News

Environmental Group Warns Of Declining Water Quality

Posted July 12, 2005 5:07 a.m. EDT

— An environmental group is warning that North Carolina's water quality could suffer in future years as the state's growth explosion adds more pollution to lakes and rivers.

"We want to make sure that the public knows that some of their favorite places for fishing and swimming and their drinking water sources could be polluted," said Christine Wunsche, of North Carolina's Public Interest Research Group. "If they aren't now, they will be in the near future."

The PIRG examined loss of cropland and forestland in the state's river basins. Over the next 20 years, it sees more of the same, with damaging results. It says that the more asphalt that is put on the ground, the easier it is for oil, dirt, toxins and fertilizers to make its way into rivers and streams.

A lifelong resident of Falls Lake, Amy Poole says she can already see signs of trouble.

"I've noticed that algae seems to grow in the lake at a quicker rate," Poole said. "If you ride behind the dam and smell, the water that's coming out of the dam has a pungent odor, and it's cause for concern."

PIRG is not the only one raising a red flag. The state legislature just passed a new law that creates more aggressive monitoring of drinking water supplies, such as Falls Lake. Its goal is to find problems while it is still early enough to fix them.

State Water Quality officials confirm that North Carolina's population will grow from 8 to 12 million in the next 25 years.

The challenge is for the state to find a way to keep forestland and croplands working.