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911 Board Clarifies Back-up PSAP Implementation Extension

The N.C. 911 Board voted last week to clarify legislation from last year that granted an extension to the 2014 statutory requirement that primary 911 call centers, also known public safety answering points (PSAPs), have back-up capabilities by July 1, 2016.

HB 512/ S.L. 2105-219 - Amend/Clarify Back-Up PSAP Requirements stated that a primary PSAP must make only "substantial progress" toward implementation of a back-up plan by the July deadline. Having a back-up in place will require that a means for taking 911 calls in the event that they cannot be received and processed in the primary PSAP.

Since the 2015 legislation did not define "substantial progress" and the board's distribution of funding to PSAPs depends on whether such progress has been made, the board took action to define the term as follows:

“Substantial progress for an extension be defined as a backup plan has been submitted for approval to the NC 911 Board and a timeline for completion of the backup plan accompanies the request for an extension by July 1, 2016.”

The board's staff noted that a certified letter explaining the back-up requirement and deadline had been sent to the many PSAPs that have not yet submitted a plan. Contact: Sarah Collins


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State Releases Draft Impaired Waters List

On Tuesday, the N.C. Division of Water Resources released its 2016 draft list of the state’s impaired waters ("303(d) list"). The 303(d) list is named after Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act, which requires states to evaluate the health of their streams, rivers and other bodies of water every two years and list those that do not meet water quality standards. Once listed, impaired waters most often become subject to water pollution restrictions for the affected watershed, usually in the form of a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) limits. Local governments, as the holders of wastewater and stormwater discharge permits, bear responsibility for reducing their discharges to these waters under a TMDL, often a costly requirement. With the release of the draft list, the state is now seeking public comment. Comments on the draft 303(d) list must be submitted by  March 29, 2016 to 2016draft303d@lists.ncmail.net. Contact: Sarah Collins
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Asheville Water Case to be Heard in Morganton

The state Supreme Court will head west to hear arguments in the lawsuit over who should control the Asheville water system. The court announced this week that it will meet May 17 in the historic Burke County Courthouse in Morganton to hear the case. The court typically holds sessions in Raleigh, but legislation passed last year gave the court permission to meet in Morganton and Edenton twice a year, locations where the court had convened in previous centuries. The City of Asheville's lawsuit -- supported in amicus curiae briefs filed by the League -- challenges legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2013 transferring the water system to a regional authority. A Superior Court judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional, but a state Court of Appeals panel overturned that decision. The city is now appealing to the state's high court. Read previous League coverage here, and media coverage about the scheduled hearing here.
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Register Now - Outdoor Lighting Webinar

Join with the League and Duke Energy on Monday, March 21 from 10:30 am to 12 pm for a webinar to discuss issues surrounding municipal street lighting (registration here). The webinar will focus on the modernization of street lighting, including LED lighting. It is a continuation of discussions that began after the League, in 2013, intervened in the Duke Energy Carolinas rate case before the North Carolina Utilities Commission. The webinar will be an opportunity for Duke Energy to help customers understand the latest developments in the modernization technology,  allow Duke Energy to better understand their municipal customers' future needs, and to provide insight into Duke Energy's lighting platform for the future. Please register by March 16. Contact: Sarah Collins.
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Attend Application Sessions for Water Funding Programs

Officials from cities and towns interested in applying for funding through several programs operated by the state Division of Water Infrastructure can attend five separate training session being held in the month of March. The sessions are designed to help in the application process, and the division staff strongly encourages those towns and cities that are considering applying to send a representative to one of the sessions. Three of the four programs are new. The programs are the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, State Project Grants, Asset Inventory and Assessment Grants, and Merger/Consolidation Grants. The sessions will be held March 17 in Mooresville, March 18 in Valdese, March 28 in Washington, March 30 in Fayetteville and March 31 in Raleigh. Seating is limited and you must register by March 11 to attend. Contact Jennifer Haynie at Jennifer.haynie@ncdenr.gov for more information or to RSVP. You can also find more information about the application process for the division's funding programs here
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Tax Credits, Grants Produce Historic Preservation, Film Activity

Wilmington officials say they are seeing rising interest in historic building renovation in the wake of the reinstatement of a state historic tax credit. George Edwards of the Historic Wilmington Foundation told the Wilmington Star-News that his office is receiving four to five calls a week. State officials, meanwhile, say it is too early to judge the effects of the tax credit. N.C. Commerce officials have also recently said that three separate TV and film productions will be coming to the state thanks to expanded film grants approved by legislators. A remake of the film "Dirty Dancing" will be filmed in Buncombe and Jackson counties; an independent film called "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" also will be filmed in those counties; and a TV series called "Shots Fired" will be made in the Charlotte area. Read more on the historic tax credit news here, and more about the film grants here.
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Sanford Plant Treating Coal Ash Leachate

Leachate collected from the bottom of pits where coal ash is being dumped in Chatham County is being treated at a Sanford wastewater treatment plant without incident, The Fayetteville Observer reports. Sanford officials say five to 15 trucks a day are bringing as much as 6,000 gallons each to the plant, and that the liquid from the coal ash is going through the entire treatment process while remaining in compliance with its discharge permits. The treatment of the collected liquid has been occurring for the last three months. The leachate and its treatment are the result of the Duke Energy's initial efforts to clean up coal ash ponds at 14 power plant sites around the state. Read more about the treatment and clean-up here.
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More Legislators Consider Congressional Bid

The contest to elect someone to the newly crafted 13th Congressional District could turn into a crowded battle between state legislators. Rep. John Blust of Greensboro is the latest to say that he will seek the seat. Sen. Andrew Brock of Mocksville has already announced, and Rep. Jon Hardister of Greensboro has said that he is considering seeking the post. Also this week, Rep. Cecil Brockman of High Point said that he is contemplating a run. The primaries for the contest are now scheduled for June 7, but the latest districts remain the subject of a court challenge.