When most people think of lax pollution controls, they usually think of dirtier and more toxic air and water. As a new release from the good people at the North Carolina chapter of Sierra Club reminds us however, sometimes lax regulation can lead to other, less obvious results — like dramatically increased flooding. Here is a statement that the group released earlier today:
Bill on Governor’s Desk Could Worsen Flooding in Eastern North Carolina
Vital streams would lose protections under H 765
RALEIGH – As Eastern North Carolina recovers from record breaking rainfall, a bill awaiting Gov. McCrory’s signature could make future flooding in the state worse if it becomes law. H 765, Regulatory Reform of 2015, contains many provisions criticized by environmental groups. Among them, §4.31 would prohibit the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) from requiring mitigation for impacts to seasonal streams from development. The bill was supported by the Chamber of Commerce and developers.
Seasonal or intermittent streams are well-defined channels where water flows for only part of the year, typically during the winter and spring. Nearly half (46%) of North Carolina stream miles – over 50K miles out of 112K total stream miles – are intermittent and small perennial streams. These streams are often streams drain between 55% and 85% of the land area in North Carolina and are often headwaters to our drinking water sources.
“Intermittent streams help manage flooding by providing a safe channel for the water to flow.” said Matthew Starr, Upper Neuse Riverkeeper. “Without these streams, in periods of unusual rainfall, there’s nowhere for floodwater to go except through developed areas. The flooding we saw this week in the eastern part of our state would have been much worse if we didn’t have seasonal streams to carry floodwaters.”
H 765 was passed on the last night of the legislative session. The provision affecting seasonal streams was never debated in committee, nor did legislators hear from experts about the potential impact. The measures is on the Governor’s desk.
“The Governor should act decisively to protect North Carolinians from future flooding events by vetoing H 765,’” stated Dustin Chicurel-Bayard, communications director of the North Carolina Sierra Club.
On September 30, 2015, fifteen environmental groups called on Gov. McCrory to veto H 765. The letter requesting the veto can be found here: http://bit.ly/1VBMkdH.