Lincoln Times-News Aug. 6, 2009

County adopts watershed plan for western creeks

by: Sarah Melton

Lincoln County Commissioners adopted the Indian Creek and Howards Creek Local Watershed Plan Monday.

The plan was a two-year effort between Lincolnton and Lincoln County and Gaston County staff, Catawba Lands Conservancy, N.C. Division of Water Quality, N.C. Rural Water Association, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Carolina Land and Lakes Resource Conservation and Development.

The plan summarizes current conditions of the Indian and Howards creeks watersheds located in the western portions of Lincoln County. It also offers insight into areas of water quality concern throughout the watersheds.

The plan’s Project Atlas identifies specific sections of streams and/or wetlands that are currently in need of enhancement, restoration and preservation including:

• 25 stream restoration sites (70,000 feet or 13 miles).

• 10 stream preservation sites (51,000 feet or 10 miles).

• 20 wetland restoration sites (195 acres).

• Four storm water project sites (treating 30 acres).

• Two agricultural project sites (one farm).

Hal Bryson is a watershed planner with the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program, which headed up the planning efforts.

“Eighty-five percent of the watershed area is within Lincoln County,” he told Commissioners.

“There is a small amount in Catawba County and the extreme northwestern corner of Gaston County.”

The major recommendations within the plan are:

• Develop a local watershed education program.

• Seek funding to implement priority stormwater projects.

• Continue to work with developers in water supply watersheds.

• Adopt a county-wide storm water ordinance.

• Review and update erosion/sediment control ordinance to address new developments more effectively.

• Overlay Lincoln County streamside buffer rules along main stem of Catawba River, including Lake Norman.

• Consider tree protection standards.

• Complete the stream mapping project in the county.

• Continue rural preservation efforts; develop a Farmland Protection Plan.

• Formally adapt the Watershed Management Plan.

• Establish a local Watershed Advisory Committee within the Lincoln County Natural Resources Committee.

• Seek funding to hire a local watershed coordinator.

An additional outcome of the planning process determined sites that could be retrofitted with Best Management Practices for controlling stormwater.

West Lincoln High School was chosen as a top candidate for the installation of a stormwater wetland to collect, clean and slowly release stormwater runoff that is leaving the parking lot. The stormwater is currently entering a tributary of Indian Creek and has contributed to the impairment of the stream.

Rob Carson, a planner with Lincoln County, announced Monday that a $40,000 grant from the N.C. Division of Water Quality would fund the West Lincoln High stormwater project.

The funds will also help local schools purchase equipment, which can be used for educational opportunities associated with the constructed wetland, he said.

Implementation of the project will likely begin in December.

“Our project was the highest ranked application by the state for this funding cycle,” Carson said.

The plan does not place any mandatory action on any residents. Landowner easements are completely voluntary.

Also, there is no cost to the county. Staff will offer in-kind services, such as help with writing grant proposals and participating in meetings.