Wanted: a sediment/erosion control officer for clean water

Published 10:00pm Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I am unhappily “knighting” myself as the Polk County Volunteer Sediment Erosion Control Officer, with faithful side-kick dog, Izzy.
Recently, out of concern for our Green River Watershed, I spent a day on the phone and visiting two sites of soil disturbances polluting our creeks. The first site was at Holbert Cove and Silver Creek roads (gas line problem). The other was on Highway 9 between Edwards and Metcalf roads (new county water line).
This is how it went….call to PSNC Energy/Asheville Region (total of nine people involved, including an environmental staff), then call to Polk County/Cathy Ruth, then call to report both concerns to DENR/Asheville, Land Quality Division (Shawna Riddle), then received call backs from Scott with Odem Engineers and Rusty from PSNC Energy/Asheville Region, then confirmation/plan call back with DENR, Shawna Riddle, then found out I need to make two more calls tomorrow regarding the Sheehan Grading Company contributing to the second site!
At the end of the day everybody promised to do the right thing because the state said they would check with follow-up visits on these sites as soon as possible and, oh, because Izzy and I made such a fuss.
Izzy and I would prefer for anybody disturbing our earth’s soil adjacent to any waterways, be it our creeks, Green River or Lake Adger in Polk County to please use best-management practices to protect our water quality from this polluting silt/sedimentation/erosion!
Folks, this will soon be our dirty drinking water!
Adequate quality, proper installation and maintenance of the silt fencing are the known standards for best-management practices. So why on earth are we not making sure this is indeed happening, especially at such a crucial time of pending reclassification of our Green River Watershed into public drinking water status (WS-IV), and why are we not being more vigilant in showing we can protect/care for our water resources? Is the thinking that the future White Oak Equestrian Community customers will just have to pay more for processing of their water supplies at the water treatment plant because we can’t make the effort to prevent this man made sedimentation into the waterways from occurring? Is this like the thinking that we will spend taxpayer (your) money to dredge heavily-sedimented Lake Adger and not make any effort to prevent more sediment barreling back down the Green River just to replace it?
A responsible solution, far better for the watershed, and much more fair to taxpayers, would be for Polk County to adopt a local sediment/erosion control ordinance, complete with an officer to educate, monitor, fine and enforce, so we get prevention and best-management practices into the formula of clean drinking water, and stop this wasteful, vicious cycle. Polk County, please step up to the plate and show you are a committed leader and partner in protecting and effectively managing our Green River Watershed that is to provide drinking water to your citizens.
Even if we don’t get uniforms, watchdog Izzy and I would gladly continue to be good citizens volunteering in assisting this greatly needed officer’s duties. But, we need your help, too.
Thank you.
– Sky Conard,
Polk County resident

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