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State Regulators Approve Neuse Cleanup Plan

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State environmental regulators are calling for steps to improve the quality of the Neuse River.
RALEIGH — The amount of pollutiondumped into theNeuse River will be slashed dramatically under new guidelines approved bystate environmental regulators. Farms, factories, andmunicipal watersystems 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 thatthose whose water goes to a local waste treatment plant will be shellingout a little more each month.

Don Reuter is a spokesperson for the North Carolina Environmental andNatural 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 proposed30 percent reduction of the amount of nitrogen that can be discharged bysewage treatment plants. That alone will generate some expensive changes.The state estimates needed plant upgrades will total $92 million. Oddsare, users will have to foot at least part of the bill.

Other parts of the plan include the creation of buffers along streamsin agricultural areas, new municipal stormwater management plans, andreduction of nitrogen output from agricultural areas. Those costs couldreach an estimated $42 million.

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

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