Water quality violation at TIEC

Published 1:50 pm Friday, August 7, 2020

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TIEC responds damage caused by natural act, not negligence

MILL SPRING—The North Carolina Division of Water Quality notified Tryon International Equestrian Center this week of violations.

MountainTrue followed up on a public complaint of sediment flowing into White Oak Creek from TIEC. Video was taken included muddy water flowing into the creek, which is a tributary of the Green River.

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MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper Gray Jernigan reported the issue to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources and inspector visited the site.

DWR inspected the area on July 29, where according to MountainTrue, they witnessed contractors flushing sediment into the center’s stormwater drainage system and failures in TIEC’s stormwater management system.

The violations from DWR included 4 water quality violations. Failure to resolve the violations quickly and remediate damage could result in penalties up to $25,000 per day for each violation, according to the state’s notice.

TIEC COO Sharon Decker said on Thursday that the center is responding to the notice received from NCDEQ this week. She said all of the concerns, they believe, were as a result of the occurrences of flooding during the week of May 18, in particular, on May 19 when the area received more than 7 inches of rainfall in less than a 12-hour period.

Decker said an event greater than the 50-year, 12-hour rainfall occurred and areas previously stable, including native woodlands, were severely eroded through the entire drainage basin.

“The constructed erosion control devices remained in working condition while natural ground with woodland cover eroded into the stream mentioned in the notice of violation,” Decker said. “Our position is that the damage was caused by extensive rainfall and flooding, a ‘natural act’ and not a matter of negligence. I do look forward to meeting with Mr. Jernigan soon.”

MountainTrue says that TIEC was first cited in 2014 and has received numerous violations from the NCDEQ over the years since.

“Tryon International Equestrian Center has been a repeat violator of water quality.” Jernigan said. “They were first cited in 2014, and it only got worse as they rushed to build new facilities ahead of the World Equestrian Games in 2018. They took shortcuts and chose not to employ standard best management and construction practices to keep sediment on site, and the problems persist.”