Carthage Eases Buffer on Nicks Creek
The Carthage town commissioners on Monday night changed the protected boundaries upstream along Nicks Creek where it flows through the new Pine Forest development.
The development will be located between N.C. 211 and N.C. 73, but water from Nicks Creek flows downstream into the restored Carthage reservoir on N.C. 22. Residents have expressed concerns about pollution of their drinking water source by chemicals used for golf course irrigation.
The commissioners were told the state already enforces a 25-foot band from the wetlands edge where no irrigation water can be sprayed. The new development will use recycled water that has passed through its wastewater treatment system to irrigate greens and fairways. Private homeowners will probably use it to water lawns.
Originally, Carthage asked for a 75-foot buffer as measured from the wetland's edge. Fred Hobbs, of Hobbs Upchurch & Associates, told the board that might be hard to accomplish.
The wetlands area on the banks of the creek extends to varying extents from the main part of the stream. Beginning a buffer at the wetlands edge - which varies considerably - would greatly reduce "playability" on the golf course, he told the board.
Hobbs asked the board to consider changing the buffer to be measured at 75 feet from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) "blue stream line" - in effect, the middle of the stream.
Hobbs Upchurch has agreed to install monitors that would detect contamination of Nicks Creek. At their June meeting, the commissioners had tabled discussion of Pine Forest. At this meeting, Bill Huber appeared and spoke in opposition to that development, contending a number of aspects of the plan would - or could - adversely affect the environment.
In particular, Huber was concerned about the wastewater treatment plant and its proximity to Nicks Creek. He said there were other sites farther from the creek and its wetlands.
Mayor Tom Stewart, after allowing Huber to speak, told him that the Carthage board had no say at this point about the development.
"I think the public hearing on that is over," Stewart said. "While I appreciate what you are saying, we can't have a public hearing on that. It's over. You can send your handout to the county commission, but legally they can't use it."
The board voted, without objection, to grant Hobbs' request to change the terms of the buffer agreement.
Hobbs reassured the town that he would protect its water source.
"My license says 'I will protect the health and safety of the public,'" Hobbs said. "We believe we've met all the standards."
Carthage, using creek water as one source, wages a continuing battle against contaminants that enter the water through organic matter.
Town Manager Carol Sparks had just issued a statement about current levels in her report.
"We are in violation of the total trihalomethanes (TTHM) and total haloacetic acids (HAA) for the period of Jan. 1, 2011, through March 31, 2011," Sparks said.
She reported that the state-established maximum contaminant level for TTHM is 0.080, while the town's average was .097. The maximum level for HHA is 0.060. Carthage's average was 0.085, she said
Sparks said it is a problem Carthage handles every year.
"The formation of the total trihalomethanes and the haloacetic acids is affected by the organic matter in Nicks Creek, the amount of chlorine in the water and the contact time of the chlorine with the organic matter," she said. "During the compliance periods, the town's water supply primarily comes from Nicks Creek, which contains more organic matter than the natural spring."
Chlorine is being injected at the plant.
Acting on a previous request, the board set its Aug. 15 regular meeting as the date for an advertised public hearing on a request to add public auctions/retail merchandise to the list of permitted uses in the Central Business District, Thorough-fare Business District and Highway Commercial District.
The board went into a closed session to discuss a personnel matter at the request of the town manager and returned to public session before adjournment, with no action taken.
Contact John Chappell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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