At the November 2019 Environmental Management Commission
Meeting, NC DEQ presented their Annual Basinwide Water Management Plan report highlighting
threats and efforts to manage our state’s water resources.
Regarding nutrients, there were a number of concerning items reported:
Nutrient related water quality impairments increased about 15% in 2018 when compared with 2016.
In 2018, DWR investigated 37 algal blooms. Of those, 19 blooms (51%) were categorized as Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) (cyanobacteria dominant) occurring across the state in in the Neuse, Cape Fear, Chowan, Pasquotank, Tar-Pamlico and Little Tennessee River basins.
As of June, so far in 2019 DWR collected 17 episodic bloom samples. Of those, 12 blooms (70%) were categorized as HABs.
Overall, there were 204 routine samples collected from lakes and reservoirs in the Cape Fear River Basin in 2018. Of those, 140 (69%) met the algal bloom density criterion (greater than 10,000 cells/mL as described above) with 108 (77%) of those being categorized as HABs.
Nutrients aside, the news was not all bad. The report highlights that in 2018 “DWR removed 35 stream segments (AU’s) from the 303(d) list for a total of 41 metal delistings.”
Findings from the report indicate that efforts to reduce nutrient pollution in North Carolina need to continue and even be enhanced. Current efforts to readopt its nutrient management rules, while needed, should be expanded to look at nutrient pollution as a statewide problem that needs action.