This week marks the 45th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, one of our nation’s most successful pieces of environmental and public health legislation. It regulated the discharge of pollutants from a pipe or ditch into most public waterways and provided funding for wastewater treatment upgrades across the country. The Clean Water Act was a bold law, but more than that it was a common-sense law. Thanks to this landmark law, it’s much more rare to see raw human sewage being purposely pumped into our rivers.
But challenges to keeping water clean and safe from polluters are still great, particularly here in North Carolina. Shoddy coal-ash pits and fetid lagoons of animal waste are located perilously close to major waterways across the state. Nutrient pollution from agricultural runoff is spawning dangerous algal blooms in our lakes and estuaries. And recently, the public has begun to turn attention to an long invisible threat – chemical dumping. One example is Chemours and DuPont, who have been discharging an array of harmful and potentially deadly chemicals into the Cape Fear River. Some of these compounds have cryptic names – C8 or GenX – but many are so new or unstudied that there are no common names for them yet and no research on how they might affect water quality, wildlife or the long term health of our families and children exposed to it.
We know three things for sure: These types of persistent chemicals are hard to filter out of our drinking water; they take hundreds of years to break down; and, they are not just in the Cape Fear. They’ve been found in the Haw River as well and are likely present in every major waterway in the state. The Clean Water Act may come to our rescue once again. Regulators can and should act under the authority provide by the law to prohibit discharges of these persistent chemicals under any new permits provided to polluting industries. Until we know with complete certainty these chemicals are safe, they have no place in our water.
Upper Neuse Riverkeeper, Sound Rivers
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NCAA not ‘fair’
Regarding “Pack’s Beverly ruled ineligible” (Oct. 14): Isn’t it ironic that on the same day the NCAA announced it had decided not to punish UNC for more than 1,000 “student-athletes” not attending class over nearly two decades, it announced it would punish an N.C. State basketball player for attending two summer school classes at another university before his coach was fired and he then transferred to State.
UNC was not punished for massive fraud on several fronts while an NCSU student-athlete received the punishment of not being eligible to play for another year. Fair, equitable treatment? Of course not.