Clean Water: Groups Ask EMC for Stronger Water Pollution Limits

Protecting the right to clean water

Three North Carolina clean water groups have petitioned the NC Environmental Management Commission (EMC) for stronger, more consistent restrictions on industrial and other wastewater treatment plants’ water pollution discharges. The petition is particularly applicable to discharges of PFAS and other “forever chemicals” from facilities across the state.

The 32-page petition seeks a ruling from the EMC that would require the NC Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to “consistently” apply existing state and federal laws regarding the discharge of pollutants into waterways.

“Proper application of technology-based controls has led to significant water quality protections in our community,” said Winston-Salem-based Yadkin Riverkeeper Edgar Miller. “We commend DEQ for applying technology-based controls in the Colonial Pipeline permit and we hope that a ruling by the Environmental Management Commission will ensure those protections are extended across North Carolina.”

“Our petition asks DEQ to apply the same laws it applied at Chemours to other industrial dischargers within the Cape Fear watershed and across the state,” said Kemp Burdette, Cape Fear Riverkeeper. “Communities in North Carolina are depending on DEQ to issue permits that require industries to use those technologies to better protect water quality and communities.”

The third petitioner is MountainTrue, rounding out a trio of clean water groups representing citizens in all three major geographic regions of the state.

Attorneys for the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed the petition on behalf of the clean water groups. “DEQ’s inconsistent application of the law leaves communities in North Carolina vulnerable to harmful industrial water pollution,” said Patrick Hunter, a senior attorney for SELC. “The Environmental Management Commission has an important opportunity to confirm DEQ’s longstanding legal obligation to consistently apply the protections of the Clean Water Act to communities across the state. Consistent application of the law will better protect North Carolinians from harmful pollutants like toxic PFAS, or forever chemicals, and 1,4-dioxane.”

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