Green River Watershed Alliance seeks partners from community

Published 5:44 pm Thursday, March 1, 2012

In 2011, 22 volunteers gleaned 380 pounds of trash and 400 pounds of recyclables from Green River Cove to Fishtop. Fourteen volunteers cleaned a half-mile along the north side of Lake Adger, meanwhile, and collected 700 pounds of trash and 60 pounds of recyclables. This included three tires, 50 disposable cigarette lighters, a toy horse and more than 200 flip-flops.
Though the thought of all of these items floating around in the river or lake catches the public attention, Conard said it’s the less noticeable problem of increasing sediment that poses the biggest threat to waterways.
She said sedimentation caused by soil erosion is the single largest water pollutant; it smothers aquatic life, clogs fish gills, warms waters, reduces oxygen levels and destroys wildlife habitats.
In February 2010 Conard and Davidson began communications with Polk County Soil and Water, the N.C. Department of Water Quality, Polk County and Altamont Environmental.
“We’ve already begun to build the partnerships but now we need citizen participation,” Conard said. “Now it’s time to get this thing moving and get everyone engaged, and certainly the citizens are the most vital partnership we can make.”
Citizens would be the ones pushing for fellow neighbors to work toward protection, prevention and restoration, Conard said.
She said such an alliance could discuss the need for conservation easements and creating public greenways, establishing conservation land trusts, developing community workshops and environmental watershed topics and distributing watershed materials.
Davidson said they could also push bio-monitoring in which citizens would collect and identify invertebrates and take monthly water samples to test for sediment and turbidity, among other chemical parameters. The group could also encourage citizens to report potential threats to the waterway and lead efforts for installation and maintenance of silt fencing for erosion control.
Davidson said the next step would be to develop an advisory committee.
“Before the state will come out and do any assessments on the Green River Watershed, we have to have a committee together,” Davidson said. “Once they do the assessment, if there are problems found, homeowners or business owners that work and live and play along the Green River can work to get grants that are currently already available.”
One property owner in attendance at the meeting was concerned that GRWA members had not contacted him or neighbors that own property along the Green River about their plans. He said he and his neighbors work hard to take care of their property and are weary of the government coming in and telling them what to do or not to do.
“We are definitely interested in talking about the homeowners but we don’t know all the homeowners,” Davidson said. “It’s through the homeowners that are involved that we can get to know other homeowners who might have a stake in this issue.”
Conard said in the end the more community input the GRWA has, the better.
“We want people to understand that we are all trying to do the best thing for our waters,” Conard said. “If we are going to drink this water one day, which we likely are in the future, we should all want to protect the water now.”
To learn more about the GRWA, email or call Conard at 704-299-1424.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox