News | February 11, 2015

SELC action spurs North Carolina town to address wastewater pollution

In response to SELC’s notice of intent to file suit for water quality violations, the town of Red Springs, North Carolina, has passed a new ordinance aimed at curbing the release of mercury, cyanide, and other contaminants into its wastewater collection and treatment system. SELC’s goal now is to ensure enforcement of the new law, which enables the town to impose substantial penalties on polluters.

We stepped in because over the past two years the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources has done little to stem Red Springs’ persistent violations of its Clean Water Act permit. In 2013 and 2014, mercury in the town’s effluent discharges exceeded permitted limits nearly 80 times. The town releases its wastewater into a tributary of the Lumber River, the source of drinking water for some 20,000 people and one of only four rivers in North Carolina designated a State Natural and Scenic Water.

As part of a campaign to protect and improve water quality in North Carolina, SELC and Waterkeepers Carolina have set up a website where citizens can report Clean Water Act violations and other threats to the state’s waters.