Good News! Details about the lower Yadkin River's water quality/dissolved oxygen improvements are now posted at http://insidestanly.com/?p=7164
. Because of heavy livestock waste runoffs from north of the Yadkin Project (Alcoa's four hydroelectric dams) and other pollution from further north, the waters of the Yadkin that enter High Rock Lake are in compliance with DENR's dissolved oxygen guidelines only around 50% of the time. Alcoa's Yadkin Project is now in compliance with the dissolved oxygen guidelines from 97% to 100% of the time at its two lower dams. (Alcoa is committed to improvements with new oxygen generating turbines at their High Rock Dam and the Tuckertown Dam once their license is renewed.)
I also understand that Alcoa, DENR and the EPA are all very actively working towards PCB remediation in the bay across from the closed smelting plant.
Alcoa is doing their part and they should be held fully accountable for any problems that occurred from their now closed Badin smelting plant. I hope the many current polluters further north, including municipal waste water treatment plants, Duke's Buck Steam Station, industrial plants, livestock and agricultural operations also do their part to improve the Yadkin's water quality. Both the EPA and DENR need to be more vigilant in their enforcement of the Clean Water Act. Sadly, all the major river basins in the state of NC are impaired and need significant environmental improvements.
I had a tour of Alcoa's land and some Land Trust projects north of the I-85 bridge and I was very impressed with the potential creation of new areas to attract quail and waterfowl with the addition of managed warm season native grass areas. Some funds to preserve that important area, that were raised by the Land Trust for Central NC, have had to be returned to the several land preservation trust funds because of the delay with the license and, therefore, with the implementation of the Relicensing Settlement Agreement.
In this economic climate it is very difficult to raise funds but to have to return a large block of money that would have greatly benefitted our children and our grandchildren, wildlife and the environment of the Yadkin River is terrible.
Many involved with land preservation along the Yadkin are still pumped! Jason Walser, with the Land Trust for Central NC, has called the Yadkin Pee Dee River Basin corridor the most important wildlife corridor in the state of NC because it contains significant land buffers from the mountains to the sea. This major corridor is greatly helped by the existence of the Uwharrie National Forest, Morrow Mt. State Park, the Pee Dee Wildlife Refuge further south and the eventual preservation of Alcoa's land along the Yadkin Project from the edge of Davie County to the end of the Falls Reservoir. No other river basin in the state of NC has such large, key, pristine preservation areas.
In reality this unique wildlife corridor from the mountains to the sea is the most important land preservation and environmental enhancement project in NC for our generation. It should get the support of everyone including hunters, fishermen, birders, hikers, paddlers, ecotourism businesses, new home buyers and innovative businesses who are looking for regions with unique natural appeal and the entire environmental community who understands more fully how FERC actually operates and makes decisions. Simply put, a takeover or recapture of the Yadkin Project by FERC and the US Congress will not happen, therefore, the efforts by some (with good intentions) to support some sort of public trust operation of the Yadkin Project is not only completely unrealistic but it is now keeping important environmental improvements/projects from happening.
As we know Alcoa's Relicensing Settlement Agreement is supported by 23 key stakeholders including American Rivers. The waters of the Yadkin are public waters and those public and interstate waters are highly regulated by FERC. All water withdrawal and stream flow in the Yadkin Project is fully controlled by FERC for the benefit of the public. Hydro power basically does not consume water but simply utilizes it to once again flow downstream, unlike Duke Energy's coal and nuclear plants that actually consumes and evaporates a lot of water. Alcoa's pattern of selling electricity from their dams during times of peak energy demand in our region and in the northeast helps keep additional power plants, in the near future, from being built.
Beginning in a few weeks a key photography project will bring to light the scenic beauty and the environmental necessity for more land preservation along the Yadkin River. The photo exhibit will be available as a traveling program to groups around the state starting by mid-summer. The upland and shoreline property that buffers and protects the Yadkin River Basin and the public waters of the Yadkin can best be protected and preserved by broad cooperation between Alcoa, bordering counties along the Yadkin River, the Land Trust of Central NC, the EPA, DENR, and the state of NC.
John D. Young