Burlington Times-News September. 23, 2008

Residents, council seek to preserve local water quality

Brie Handgraaf / Times-News

When Jerry Hyatt bought his property in the city limits of Burlington nine years ago, the 400 to 500 feet that are adjacent to Little Alamance Creek were a nice feature to his property, but it has since become a headache.

He said he spends a few days a year filling large trash bags with litter in addition to the items too large to fit into a bag. For example, he has hauled a 250 gallon fuel tank and an 8- to 10-foot wading pool from the water along with more tires than you can shake a stick at, he said.

Hyatt was part of a small crowd of people who attended a public hearing Monday at the Kernodle Senior Center in Burlington.

The meeting was designed to educate the public on a restoration project to improve the water quality of Little Alamance, Travis and Tickle creeks, which were declared impaired by the North Carolina Division of Water Quality due to poor biological communities.

Cy Stober, the water quality planner with Piedmont Triad Council of Governments, spoke about a study conducted by his department and North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program to determine ways to restore and preserve water quality in the area.

The study determined there were 142 points within the 51-square-mile watershed which were the largest focuses of the restoration.

"I'll write grants for anyone willing to work on restoring the watershed," Stober said. "Act now - be better stewards now!"

Stober said his department is working on education opportunities to improve conditions and promote solutions that everyone can do. He said that people can start by creating buffers along the creek to reduce erosion, reduce fertilizer usage and being Stormwater smart to prevent runoff pollution.

The EEP report will be available at http://www.ptcog.org/eep/LA TTC_WP.html by the end of this week. Other resources include: the Division of Water Quality's website at http://h2o.enr. state.nc.us/, the Center for Watershed Protection's site at http://cwp.org/ and the Piedmont Triad Council of Government's site at www.stormwatersmart.org/

As for Hyatt, he said he will do whatever is necessary to see the state of the creek improve.

Tony Laws with the Burlington Parks and Recreation said they are planning on beginning construction within City Park next fall in hopes of leading the way toward improving the watershed.

"Water quality is all of our responsibility," he said.