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Report of the Legislative Commission to Study the Water Pollution Problems and Water Resources Needs of the Chowan River Basin and the Albemarle Sound Basin : submitted to the members of the 1983 General Assembly online

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NoC/L514r/ 1983-85
arolina. Legislative
ch Commission.




RBR/PD/
North C

Resear
Reports








DATE


ISSUED TO
































RBR/PD/NoC/L514r/ 1983-85

North Carolina. Legislative

Research Commissi on.
Reports.




NOT TO BE REMOVED
FROM

UNC LAW SCHOOL
LIBRARY





NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY



REPORT OF THE LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION

TO STUDY THE WATER POLLUTION PROBLEMS

AND WATER RESOURCES NEEDS OF THE CHOWAN

RIVER BASIN AND THE ALBEMARLE SOUND BASIN



SUBMITTED TO THE MEMBERS OF THE 1983 GENERAL ASSEMBLY



December 9, 19 8 2




NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY

STATE LEGISLATIVE BUILDING
RALEIGH 37SII

December 8, 1982



The Honorable James C. Green
Lieutenant Governor and President of

the N. C. Senate
N. C. General Assembly
Legislative Office Building
Raleigh, North Carolina 27611

The Honorable Liston B. Ramsey

Speaker of the N. C. House of Representatives

N. C. General Assembly

Legislative Building

Raleigh, North Carolina 27611

Gentlemen :

The 1981 General Assembly enacted House Bill 747
(Chapter 1090 of the 1981 Session Laws) that created a
"Legislative Commission to Study the Water Pollution
Problems and Water Resources Needs of the Chowan River
Basin and the Albemarle Sound Basin". To fulfill its
legislative charge the Study Commission met several times
during 1981-82 and 1982-83 in Raleigh and communities
located in the Chowan/Albemarle Sound Basin area. The
Department of Natural Resources and Community Development,
the Agricultural Task Force, the N. C. Department of
Agriculture, researchers at N. C. State University, and
others worked very closely with the Study Commission and
are to be commended.

As directed in section 2 of House Bill 1090, the
Study Commission submits the attached report to the members
of the 1983 General Assembly and recommends that the
Department of Natural Resources and Community Development



December 8, 1982
Page 2



continue its efforts to improve the water quality
condition of the Chowan River and Albemarle Sound area.

Respectfully submitted,



Senator Melvin R. Daniels,
lairma



Co-Chairman



^T?epresentativ(



?presentative John B. Gillam, III
Co-Chairman



cc: Members of the 1983
General Assembly



Table of Contents



I . Introduction 1

II. Responsibilities of the Study Commission 1

III. Responsibilities of the Department of Natural
Resources and Community Development 1, 2

IV. Brief History of Algal Blooms in the Chowan/
Albemarle Basin 2 , 3 ,

V. Participants 4

VI . Problem Statement 5

VII. Recommendations and Resource Needs of the Depart-
ment of Natural Resources and Community

Development 5 , 6

VIII .Nutrient Reduction Estimates for Agriculture 6, 7

IX. Study Commission Findings 7

X. Study Commission Recommendations 7, 8

XI. Attachments 10



Introduction



Chapter 1090 of the 1981 Session Laws authorized the
creation of a Legislative Commission to Study the Water
Pollution Problems and Water Resources needs of the Chowan
River Basin and the Albemarle Sound Basin. The Lieutenant
Governor, as President of the N. C. Senate, and the Speaker
of the N. C. House of Representatives appointed Senator
Melvin R. Daniels, Jr. and Representative John Gillam, III
as Co-Chairmen of the Study Commission. The remaining six
members of the Study Commission are:

Lt. Governor Appointments Speaker Appointments

Senator J. J. Harrington Representative Vernon James

Mr. Stanley Watson Hege Mr. David T. Bateman

Mr. H. W. Whitley Mr. Lennie Perry, II

Ms. Amy Brown, of Ahoskie with the approval of the
chairmen, served in a voluntary capacity.



Responsibilities of the Study Commission



The Study Commission was charged to conduct an extensive
study of water pollution problems and water resources needs
in the Chowan River and Albemarle Sound Basins. The Study
Commission was to report its findings to the 1983 General
Assembly by January 1, 1983 and was authorized to include
any proposed legislation, programs or interstate agreements
necessary to effectuate the Commission's findings. The
report was to, also, include an evaluation of the Chowan
River restoration efforts undertaken by the Department of
Natural Resources and Community Development.

An appropriation of $100,000 was also included in
Chapter 1090 of the 1981 Session Laws, $5,000 to the General
Assembly for the operating expenses of the Chowan-Albemarle
Legislative Study Commission, and $95,000 to the Department
of Natural Resources and Community Development.



Responsibilities of the Department of Natural Resources
and Community Development



With the appropriation of $95,000, the Department of
Natural Resources and Community Development was responsible



for conducting the Chowan River restoration efforts and
initiating studies which could lead to an Albemarle Basin
restoration project. In addition, the Department during
1981-83 was to:

(a) develop a plan for an Albemarle Sound restoration
project;

(b) submit annual reports to the Governor and the
General Assembly as needed;

(c) conduct a program of investigations which would
lead to recommendations for appropriate restora-
tion strategies;

(d) implement the restoration strategies through
appropriate State and federal laws;

(e) develop the appropriate financial, technical and
institutional cooperation with local governments
and Virginia;

(f) develop an index or indicator for the success of

the restoration efforts and report on it periodically

(g) operate a local office in the Albemarle Sound area
to respond to citizen inquiries;

(h) supplement state funds with the local and federal
funds that can be made available to assist in the
project;

(i) assign a full-time project manager to the activities
described in this act.



Brief history

of algal blooms in

the Chowan/Albemarle Basin



Several times in the past decade, the Chowan River has
experienced nuisance algal blooms which, according to
evidence presented, are symptomatic of advanced eutrophi-
cation and clear evidence that excessive concentrations of
nutrients are present in the river. Heavy growths of algae
were noted in 1970, bloom conditions developed in the
summers of 1972, 73, 74, 76, 77, 1978, 1980 and are likely
to recur in future years. Heavy local protests, major com-
plaints, and media attention focused on the loss in recrea-
tional value and the impact upon the commercial and sport-
fishing industry.



3

Earlier studies of the Chowan River appeared to produce
inconclusive results and had tremendous difficulty in
identifying a direct cause/effect relationship between
different nutrient contributors to the Chowan and the
growth of algae or algal blooms of the Chowan River. In
fact, while swimming and boating activities have been
mentioned, and while red sore disease, a bacterial infection
of fish, has been linked to deteriorating water quality, no
direct cause/effect relationship had been made between water
quality conditions in the Chowan/Albemarle Basin and declining
fish catches prior to the undertaking of the 1981-83 studies
by the Department of Natural Resources and Community Development.

In 1979, the State of North Carolina expanded its
efforts to restore the water quality conditions of the
Chowan River. A General Fund appropriation in 1979-80 and
1980-81 of $100,000 was made to the Department of Natural
Resources and Community Development to support 3 staff
scientists and an office to be established in Edenton.

In 1979, under the direction of Governor Hunt and the
Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Com-
munity Development, the Department of Natural Resources and
Community Development released a report titled the "Chowan
River Restoration Project (CHORE) , A Plan of Action to Re-
store the quality of the Chowan River vater to Acceptable
Levels". This plan of action was to be a combined, cooperative
commitment on the part of the states of North Carolina and
Virginia to develop a long term water quality management
plan for the Chowan River Basin. Virginia's then Governor
Dalton and Secretary of Commerce and Resources, Maurice B.
Rowe, assured this State of their cooperation. (A copy of
the "CHORE" report is included as attachment A) .

The Environmental Management Commission in the Depart-
ment of Natural Resources and Community Development, con-
tinued its efforts to regulate nutrient inputs to the Chowan
River by classifying the river as nutrient sensitive, thereby
prohibiting an increase of nutrients in waters so classified.
Other tributaries of the Albemarle Sound are beginning to
display water quality problems and signs of nutrient enrich-
ment. As noted in the report of the Department of Natural
Resources and Community Development to the Chowan/ Albemarle
Legislative Study Commission, large algal populations have
been noted in Albemarle Sound tributaries, such as Alligator
River and Scuppernong River, several areas are closed to
shellf ishing, several areas witnessed an outbreak of red
sore disease, and the commercial fish catch in the Albemarle
Sound has declined in recent years.

In response to the many issues and difficulties in-
volved in improving the water quality conditions of the
Chowan River and arresting the decline of water quality
conditions in other Albemarle Sound tributaries, the 1981



General Assembly enacted House Bill 747 (Chapter 1090 of the
1981 Session Laws) (attachment B) which authorized the
creation of the aforementioned Chowan/Albemarle Legislative
Study Commission. The Study Commission worked very closely
with staff of the Division of Environmental Management in
development of the Chowan/Albemarle 5-year Action Plan.



Participants



The enactment of House Bill 747 can be attributed to
the strong interests and concerns of local officials,
residents, industry, legislators representing the Chowan
River and Albemarle Sound areas, and other members of the
General Assembly deeply concerned about proliferating water
quality problems throughout the State of North Carolina.
Consequently, the staff of the Division of Environmental
Management in the Department of Natural Resources and Com-
munity Development provided technical staff assistance to
the Study Commission.

The Agricultural Task Force was called upon to provide
input to the Division of Environmental Management in the
development of the Chowan/Albemarle 5-year Action Plan. In
addition, the Agricultural Task Force presented its findings
and recommendations, as they relate to the agricultural
community, to the Study Commission in Edenton, North Carolina
on November 9, 1982. The Agricultural Task Force consisted
of representatives from:

(a) the Agricultural Extension service and Agriculture
Research Service of North Carolina State University;

(b) the North Carolina Department of Agriculture;

(c) the United States Department of Agriculture's Soil
Conservation Service and Agriculture Stabilization
and Conservation Service;

(d) the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation; and

(e) The North Carolina State Grange.

The Division of Environmental Management was repre-
sented in a non-voting capacity and the Division of Forest
Resources in a liaison capacity. The Division of Soil and
Water Conservation provided staff to and coordinated the
efforts of the Agricultural Task Force in its efforts to
develop an agricultural plan for reducing nonpoint source
pollution to the Chowan River, Albemarle Sound and its
tributaries .



Problem Statement



The Study Commission's major task was to recommend ways
to "clean up" the Chowan River, Albemarle Sound and its
tributaries, to reduce the level of pollution from all
sources, and regain the pleasant water quality conditions
that exist in other water bodies of the State. The Study
Commission's task was a very complicated one since there are
many contributors to the pollution problems of the Chowan,
and jurisdictional problems are evident between the State of
Virginia and North Carolina.

The Chowan/Albemarle 5-year Action Plan (attachment C) ,
for example, points out that concurrent reductions of
nitrogen and phosphorus are likely to produce the most
dramatic effect on algal populations in the Chowan River,
and that this is the only feasible nutrient control strategy
which would improve the eutrophication problems in the
Chowan/Albemarle Basin. Consequently, a basin-wide manage-
ment program involving North Carolina and Virginia is
recommended. Jurisdictional problems with Virginia are
evident when the issue of management planning and implementa-
tion is discussed. In addition, the agricultural community,
a contributor of nutrients to the Chowan/Albemarle Basin,
possesses unique difficulties in reducing the levels of
nutrient input to the Basin.



Recommendations and resource needs of the Department of
Natural Resources and Community Development



The Study Commission was also charged to evaluate the
Chowan River restoration efforts of the Department of
Natural Resources and Community Development. The following
recommendations are contained in the Chowan/Albemarle 5-year
Action Plan of the Division of Environmental Management:

(1) A 30-40% combined reduction in total phosphorus
inputs and 15-25% reduction in total nitrogen
inputs to the Chowan River;

(2) Continuation and expansion of point source con-
trols for nitrogen and phosphorus in the North
Carolina portion of the Basin;

(3) Continuation and expansion of land application
systems for the treatment of major municipal
discharges;

(4) By September 1983, Virginia will develop a final
management strategy to reduce their inputs to the
Chowan River;



(5) The adoption of a phosphate detergent ban in the
Chowan/Albemarle Basin;

(6) The implementation of agricultural best manage-
ment practices through a strong educational
program;

(7) The combined monitoring and permitting of point
source wastewater discharges;



Resource needs



(1) Continued funding for three scientists assigned to
the Chowan River restoration effort.

(2) A research study funded by the N. C. Division of
Marine Fisheries, the Water Resources Research
Institute, and/or the North Carolina Sea Grant
Program should be undertaken to confirm the link
between eutrophication and declining seafood
catches .



Nutrient reduction estimates for Agriculture:

Specific estimates of reducticns for agricultural
nutrients and methods of achieving these reductions as
suggested by the Agricultural Task Force on November 9, 1982
are:



Estimates



(1) Reduce fertilizer nitrogen loss by 20%.

(2) Reduce fertilizer phosphorus loss by 30%;

(3) Reduce animal waste nitrogen and phosphorus
losses;

Specific methods by which reductions are to be achieved
include:

(1) Fertilizer management:

(a) soil tests;

(b) proper amounts and application techniques;

(2) Soil and water conservation techniques:

(a) conservation tillage;

(b) field borders;

(c) grassed waterways;



7
(3) Annimal Waste Management:

(a) storage-land application systems;

(b) waste testing;

(c) proper application techniques and amounts;

Phosphorus and nitrogen nutrient reduction goals for
other point source contributors as stated in the Chowan
River Water Quality Management Plan (attachment D) are:

(1) industrial point sources 92%;

(2) municipal and other domestic point sources 95%.



Study Commission Findings



The Study Commission's findings are:

(1) There are many contributors of pollutants to the
Chowan River.

(2) Some nutrient contributors such as agriculture
experience unique and hard to manage difficulties
in reducing their levels of nutrient inputs to the
Chowan River.

(3) Economic costs associated with implementation of
best management practices for agriculture and the
difficulty of mandating the implementation of such
practices for all farmers are but two of the
unique problems associated with reducing the
levels of nutrient inputs from the agricultural
community .

(4) Other major contributors, such as municipalities
and some industries, are apt to apply more cost
effective state-of-the-art technology to reduce
their levels of nutrient inputs to the Chowan
River.



Study Commission Recommendations



In fulfilling its reponsibility to include an evaluation
of the Chowan River restoration efforts, the Study Com-



mission endorses the findings and recommendations of the
Department of Natural Resources and Community Development
contained in the Chowan/Albemarle 5-year Action Plan. In
addition, the findings and recommendations of the Agricultural
Task Force are also endorsed.

More specific recommendations of the Study Commission
are :

(1) The Study Commission encourages the Division of
Environmental Management, the Division of Soil and
Water Conservation, and the Agricultural Task
Force to continue their efforts at reducing the
level of nutrient inputs to the Chowan River from
all sources.

(2) The Study Commission encourages the voluntary
efforts of the agricultural community to continue
and expand the use of best management practices
among farmers. While placing a time frame on full
implementation of best management practices is not
feasible at this time, the Study Commission
strongly encourages widespread use of BMPs as a
method of reducing agricultures' contribution of
nutrients to the Chowan River.

(3) Evidence presented in the Chowan/Albemarle Action
Plan supports the contention that a phosphate
detergent ban adopted for all counties in the
North Carolina part of the Chowan/Albemarle Basin
could reduce phosphorus inputs from municipal
treatment plants by as much as 50%. Consequently,
the Study Commission recommends that the Department
of Natural Resources and Community Development
continue their study of such a ban and determine
the effects on the consumer, the industry, cost of
using alternative detergents, and the need for
additional legislation to impose a phosphate
detergent ban.

However, the Study Commission recommends statewide
application if such a ban is legislatively enacted
or administratively adopted.

(4) The Study Commission recommends that the Secretary
of the Department of Natural Resources and Com-
munity Development and the Governor continue their
efforts in seeking the cooperation and involvement
of the State of Virginia in "cleaning up" the
Chowan/Albemarle Basin.



(5) The State of Virginia has recently made overtures
concerning the withdrawal of water from the Chowan
River Basin. But due to the delicate nature of
the Chowan and its tributaries, the Study Com-
mission recommends:

(a) that careful consideration be given to any
proposal for interstate water withdrawals
from the Chowan River Basin at any time вЦ†

(b) that any proposal for interstate water with-
drawal from the Chowan River Basin be accompa-
nied by a feasibility study that determines
the full impact of water withdrawals on water
quality conditions, aquatic life, and recrea-
tion in the Chowan River Basin; and

(c) that should such a proposal from the State of
Virginia be made, the Governor and the
Secretary of the Department of Natural
Resources and Community Development are
encouraged to negotiate with Virginia officials
on increasing their efforts to "clean up" the
Chowan River.

(6) The Study Commission is cognizant of the resource
needs of the Division of Environmental Management
and the Division of Soil and Water Conservation in
their ongoing efforts to concentrate on "cleaning
up" the Chowan/Albemarle Basin. Therefore, it
recommends that the Department of Natural Resources
and Community Development seek appropriate funding
for these staffs to continue their efforts.

(7) The Study Commission firmly believes that the
groundwork for addressing the water pollution
problems and water resource needs of the Chowan
River and Albemarle Sound Basin has been established
and is encouraged by the ongoing efforts of the
Department of Natural Resources and Community De-
velopment, and others, to "clean up" the Chowan
River and Albemarle Sound Basin. While much
progress has been made, there still remains much

to be accomplished in solving the long range water
pollution problems and water resource needs of the
Chowan/Albemarle Basin. Consequently, the Study
Commission strongly believes that legislative
involvement should continue in consonance with the
"5 Year Action Plan" that governs the "clean up"
of the Chowan/Albemarle Basin and recommends the
continuation of this Study Commission for the 5-
year period, 1983-84 through 1988-89.



10



Attachments (Attachments A, C, D, E, and F will be located
in the Legislative Library for examination)

A. Chowan River Restoration Project (CHORE) , a Plan
of Action to Restore the quality of the Chowan
River water to acceptable levels (N. C. Department
of Natural Resources and Community Development) .

B. House Bill 747 (Chapter 1090 of the 1981 Session
Laws) (N. C. General Assembly).

C. Chowan/Albemarle 5-Year Action Plan (Division of
Environmental Management-Water Quality Section -
Planning Branch - N. C. Department of Natural
Resources and Community Development) .

D. Chowan River Water Quality Management Plan, N. C.
Department of Natural Resources and Community
Development.

E. Agriculture and Water Quality, An Implementation
Program (N. C. Soil and Water Conservation Com-
mission and the N. C. Agricultural Task Force) .

F. Summary and Recommendations - UNC WRRI Researchers
The Chowan River-Albemarle Sound System: Research
Findings and Recommendations for its Management.



GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA
SESSION 1981
RATIFIED BILL

CBAPTBB 1090
HOUSE BILL 747
AN ACT TO CHEAT E A LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION TO STUDY 1HE HATEfi
POLLUTION PBOBLEHS AND BATEB BESOUBCBS NEEDS OF THE CBONAN
BIVEB BASIN AND THE ALBEHABLE SOUND BASIN.
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

Section 1. Creation of Coaaission; Heabership;
ihaiLieii. There is created the Legislative Coaaission to study
the water pollution probleas and water resources needs of the
Chowan Biver Basin and Albeaarle Sound Basin. The coaaission
shall consist of eight aeabers appointed as follows:

(1) two aeabers of the Senate appointed by the
Lieutenant Governor, one of whoa shall be designated a cochairaaa
of the coaaission;

(2) two nonlegislative aeabers appointed by the
Lieutenant Governor, both of whoa shall be residents of the
Chowan Biver or Albeaarle Sound Basin areas;

(3) two aeabers of the Bouse of Bepresentatives
appointed by the Speaker of the Bouse of Bepresentatives, one of
whoa shall be designated a cochairaan of the coaaission;

(4) two nonlegislative aeabers appointed by the Speaker
of the House of Bepresentatives, both of whoa shall be residents
of the Chowan Biver or Albeaarle Sound Basin areas.

Sec. 2. Duties of the Coaaission. The coaaission shall
conduct an extensive study of water pollution problems and water



resources needs in the Chowan Biver and Albemarle Sound Basins.
The commission shall report its findings to the 1983 General
Assembly by January 1, 1983- The report Bay include any proposed
legislation, programs or interstate agreements necessary to
effectuate the findings of the commission. The report shall
xnclude an evaluation of the Chowan Biver restoration efforts
undertaken by the Department of Natural Resources and Community
Development.

Sec. 3. Staff, lhe Legislative Services Officer shall
provide professional assistance and secretarial support to the
commission.

Sec. 4. Duties of the Department. The Department of
Natural Besources and Community Development shall be responsible
for conducting the Chowan Biver Bestoration efforts and
initiating studies which could lead to an Albemarle Basin
Bestoration Project. During fiscal years 1981-82 and 1982-83 the
Department shall: develop a plan for an Albemarle Sound
Bestoration Project; submit annual reports to the Governor and
the General Assembly; conduct a program of investigations which
shall lead to recommendations for appropriate restoration
strategies; implement the restoration strategies through
appropriate State and federal laws; develop the appropriate
financial, technical and institutional cooperation with local
governments and Virginia; develop an index or indicator for the
success of the restoration efforts and report on it periodically;
operate a local office in the Albemarle Sound area to respond to
citizen inguiries; augment State funds with the local and federal



House Bill 747



funds that can be made available to assist in the project; and
assign a full-time project manager to the activities described in


1

Online LibraryNorth Carolina. General Assembly. Legislative CommReport of the Legislative Commission to Study the Water Pollution Problems and Water Resources Needs of the Chowan River Basin and the Albemarle Sound Basin : submitted to the members of the 1983 General Assembly → online text (page 1 of 2)