State to hold groundwater workshop in Polk County Tuesday night

Published 3:45 pm Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Water supply likely will remain a challenging issue in Polk County as severe drought has continued through the winter, and could worsen again in the spring or summer.

The implications of extended drought to Polk County citizens go beyond basic water restrictions. Fundamental changes in groundwater supplies are affected by both the drought and land development.

Polk residents will have a chance to learn more next week about groundwater resources when the N.C. Division of Water Quality Aquifer Protection Section and the Geologic Survey host a Polk County Residents Workshop.

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The workshop will be held at the Isothermal Community College Polk Campus Auditorium on Tuesday, Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m.

The workshop was initially organized as an informational meeting for the Polk County Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee, but the state says some people express interest in expanding the audience to include public managers and residents of the county.

Brett Laverty, a hydrogeologist with the Division of Water Quality&squo;s Asheville Regional Office, says the goal is to initiate a public dialogue on the wise use of steep slopes and groundwater resources.

Among the guest speakers will be regional supervisors and scientists with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Presentations will focus on a variety of timely topics including groundwater quantity, groundwater quality, and landslide hazards in Western North Carolina.

Compounding drought and development effects on the replenishment of Polk County aquifers is the impact of agricultural and domestic usage of fertilizers and pesticides. Proper management of water resources is essential to ensuring that every possible strategy for capturing storm water runoff, thus not further reducing water supplies.

Development, too, affects the quality of groundwater. Erosion and sedimentation from poorly planned and controlled developments create significant water quality issues in the water supplies below.