News | August 19, 2019

SELC challenges Siler City water quality permit

On July 24, 2019, SELC filed documents outlining the issues before the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings in a case challenging a North Carolina water quality permit that would allow the Town of Siler City in central North Carolina to discharge nutrient-laden pollution from its wastewater treatment plant into Loves Creek and the Rocky River.  SELC is challenging the new permit on behalf of Rocky River Watch, a grassroots conservation organization based in Chatham County, NC.

The Rocky River is a recreational destination for paddlers, fishermen, and wildlife enthusiasts in central North Carolina, and is home to the endangered Cape Fear shiner.  For years, Siler City’s treatment plant discharged harmful pollution into the Rocky River. In the past, such high levels of pollution led the state to declare the Rocky River impaired, or too polluted, to meet standards under the U.S. Clean Water Act. Just as the Rocky River is starting to recover, this permit would allow pollution to return to historically high levels.

A recently built chicken slaughterhouse plant—owned by a multi-billion dollar out-of-state company called Mountaire Farms—will be the major contributor to the pollution levels. Mountaire Farms’ Siler City facility will process 1.4 million chickens per week. Mountaire is not adequately cleaning its wastewater before sending it to the Siler City plant, saddling the Town with the cost of treating the waste before it is funneled into the Rocky River.

Located in the Cape Fear River basin, the Rocky River is a beloved destination for boaters, swimmers, and fishermen, and is home to the endangered Cape Fear Shiner. All of this will be harmed by the permit issued to Siler City.

According to the president of Rocky River Watch, Connie Allred, the Rocky River is a special place that deserves to be protected.