Local News

State Regulators Approve Neuse Cleanup Plan

Posted December 12, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— The amount of pollution dumped into the Neuse River will be slashed dramatically under new guidelines approved by state environmental regulators. Farms, factories, and municipal water systems will have to change the way they work, and it won't be cheap.

It's hard to tell how much of the cost will be passed along to private residents and businesses along the Neuse, but it's fairly certain that those whose water goes to a local waste treatment plant will be shelling out a little more each month.

Don Reuter is a spokesperson for the North Carolina Environmental and Natural Resources Division. He says we need good water quality in NC.

A major part of the plan to ease pollution of the Neuse is a proposed 30 percent reduction of the amount of nitrogen that can be discharged by sewage treatment plants. That alone will generate some expensive changes. The state estimates needed plant upgrades will total $92 million. Odds are, users will have to foot at least part of the bill.

Other parts of the plan include the creation of buffers along streams in agricultural areas, new municipal stormwater management plans, and reduction of nitrogen output from agricultural areas. Those costs could reach an estimated $42 million.

All of this contributes to the 30 percent nitrogen reduction goal, but groups such as the Neuse River Foundation say the plan doesn't go far enough. NRF volunteer De Mott says 30 percent is too little.

The plan, as currently crafted, will be phased in over a five year period. It still must be approved the state rules review commission and the general assembly.