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League Suggests Ways for Increased Urban Stream Protections

March 01, 2012

Tailoring regulations to allow for more urban buffer mitigtaion projects should be a top priority, the League urged today. In comments submitted to the N.C. Division of Water Quality (DWQ) and the N.C. Environmental Management Commission (EMC), the League offered numerous suggestions that would result in more projects offering stream protections in urbanized areas of the states.
The comments responded to a proposal allowing more options for buffer mitigation, a state program that generally requires protection of nearby waters when activities impact a stream on or adjacent to a development site.
However, for urban areas, the current program requirements are often too strict to allow buffer mitigation in urbanized areas. For example, one program element requires a tract with a minimum of 50-foot buffers on either side of a stream. In urban areas, finding such wide swaths of uninterrupted land poses great challenges.

In 1999, the state legislature recognized this and other challenges and directed the EMC to write rules that would allow for expanded buffer mitigation options. The EMC has debated a proposal since 2009, and may hear the latest version at its May 2012 meeting.
In urging EMC commissioners to incorporate rule language that would ease restrictions on buffer mitigation in urban areas, League members hope to undertake more projects in the urban areas that often need the most water body protection. Many N.C. streams in developed areas have been listed as impaired waters on the state's 303(d) list.
Please read the comments to learn more about the specific buffer mitigation program elements at issue. If you have suggestions to add, please send them to Erin Wynia.

Posted on March 01, 2012 by Erin Wynia