Polk’s commissioners pass amendment to watershed ordinance

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lake Adger Watershed IVOn Monday, Oct. 6, the Polk County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed an amendment to the county’s Watershed Protection Ordinance, reflecting the state’s Sept. 2 reclassification of a segment of the Green River, including Lake Adger and several tributaries to the Green River, in Polk County.

The state’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources reclassified this area from Class C to Class Watershed-IV at the request of the board of commissioners. The

WS-IV designation applies to a 3,154-acre critical area within a half-mile of Lake Adger, and a 17,421-acre protected area up to five miles from the lake, covering several tributaries and a portion of the Green River.

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The WS-IV designation carries with it more restrictive requirements than under the Class C designation, according to Cathy Ruth, planning and zoning administrator, in remarks made during the public hearing portion of the commissioners’ meeting.

These include 30 ft. setbacks from stream banks in low-density developments and 100 ft. setbacks in high-density developments in the critical areas. Also, in the critical area, no new landfills or land application sites will be permitted. In critical and protected areas, DOT best management practices must be used.

Ruth said that the reclassification of the watershed will not impact docks and other water dependent structures, recreational use (boating, wading, fishing, swimming), agricultural activities, forestry activities, animal operations, dams and water resources projects.

The reclassification to WS-IV is necessary for the county to be able to use Lake Adger in the future as a drinking water source.

Commissioner Tom Pack said that by passing the amendment, Polk County will not be able to immediately begin drawing water.

“What it means is that we’ve formed the watershed to protect Lake Adger. Then you have to go through a whole other process to actually start drawing water out. This is just one step of many,”Pack said.

To see the amended ordinance, visit www.polknc.org. Go to the planning and zoning department and click on planning and zoning documents. Under plans/drafts, click on watershed (draft).

Photo caption: The 3,154 acre area within a half mile of Lake Adger is now reclassified as a Watershed-IV Critical Area. The larger outlined area, containing 17,421 acres, has been reclassified as Watershed-IV Protected Area, and includes portions of the Green River, Silver Creek, Ostin Creek, Harm Creek, Brights Creek, Rash Creek, Panther Creek and Rotten Creek.

By Claire Sachse