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Water Quality Top Environmental Concern of Voters, Democratic Candidates

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RALEIGH — Water quality is the number oneenvironmental issue among voters surveyedby Your Voice, Your Vote. They believe the state must do a better job protecting our water.

So it is no surprise that water has floated to the top in the Democratic race for governor.

"I'm in favor of phasing out hog lagoons and getting them phased out within five years," says candidate Dennis Wicker.

Wicker believes pollution from hog farms threatens to destroy our waterways.

"If we don't do something about it now, we're going to be facing the worst economical and environmental disaster in the history of this state," he says.

Wicker's opponent, Mike Easley, also wants to do away with hog lagoons and correct what he calls a mess created by state lawmakers.

"They gave them tax credits to build the lagoons. They handcuffed the state's ability to regulate them. Now, we do have a mess, and it has to be fixed," says Easley.

Easley is a proposing what he calls a "backwater plan" to cleanse rivers of hog waste and other pollutants.

"And that is, you go and check the water quality, you analyze the water, see if it's meeting the standards that we set. And then you work out way back up the river to determine where and what the sources of pollution are. No one is exempt, but no one is singled out."

Wicker, meanwhile, says any comprehensive water plan must include wetlands protection.

"We have lost almost half our wetlands in this state and as natural filters you can see how alarming it would be to continue losing these wetlands," he says.

Both Wicker and Easley agree with voters that were surveyed that water quality will suffer unless rules and regulations are more strictly enforced.

Easley adds enforcement must be certain and predictable. He says it is not fair to keep changing the rules and moving the goal posts.

The Republican candidates did not say much about their views on the environment.

You can read what they did say in a special Your Voice, Your Vote section of Wednesday'sNews and Observer.

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Bill Leslie, Reporter
Edward Wilson, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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