Agreement reached to protect Rocky River Watershed

Industrial poultry operations produce large amounts of polluted wastewater in North Carolina. Unless state permits require strong wastewater treatment limits, much of that pollution washes into our rivers and streams.

On behalf of Rocky River Watch, SELC just reached a settlement with the Town of Siler City and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality under which Siler City and DEQ have agreed to take immediate action to protect the Rocky River watershed from harmful nutrient pollution.

Under the settlement, Siler City agreed to:

  • immediately adjust its operations to reduce the nitrogen pollution in the short-term;
  • upgrade its wastewater treatment plant to install the best available technology to remove nitrogen pollution from its wastewater;
  • conduct extensive sampling and monitoring within and downstream of its treatment plant; and
  • take actions to reduce harmful leaks within its treatment system.

“This settlement starts us down the path to a cleaner Rocky River by preventing harmful pollution in the Town of Siler City's wastewater from discharging into the river,” says Jean Zhuang, an SELC attorney. “The Rocky River has suffered from decades of nutrient pollution. We’re glad that Siler City is committed to cleaning up its wastewater and protecting the river.”

On Rocky River Watch’s behalf, SELC challenged the state permit in 2019 because it failed to comply with state and federal water quality laws. DEQ issued a water quality permit that would allow nutrient-laden pollution into Loves Creek and the Rocky River—a favorite destination for boaters, swimmers, and fishers, and home to the endangered Cape Fear shiner. 

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