She said she has had many questions from customers about the brown water. NCDENR data from the past 18 months shows a number of pollution problems and violations, but river quality advocates communicate the tremendous improvement from decades ago when “the river was too thin to plow and too thick to drink,” said Hartwell Carson, the French Broad Riverkeeper with the Asheville-based environmental nonprofit Western North Carolina Alliance. Independent samples taken within a two-mile radius of the Asheville plant over the past two years show that the groundwater contains iron, magnesium, and, most troubling, thallium, in levels exceeding health standards. This is extremely rare in the summertime. If the site’s failed 80% of the time, you probably shouldn’t be swimming there,” he said. Commercial outfitters and paddlers flock to this area to paddle the Barnard to Hot Springs section. The plans involve new bike lanes and greenways along with a summer concert series, sure to encourage more people to come enjoy a beer by the riverside. Riverkeeper: E. coli-pocalypse in the French Broad River, NC DEQ issues water quality violation notice to Tryon Equestrian Center, WNC outdoor outfitters reopen, with COVID-19 safety precautions. In the words of Leonardo da Vinci, “Water is the driving force of all nature.” Nowhere in the world is that more true than in the water-rich Blue Ridge. Nearly 50 years since Clean Water Act, has it helped the French Broad River? “Unfortunately the trend is worse. This anomaly in water quality in France is primarily a result of pesticides, nitrates or lead pollution. It has both a legal and moral obligation here.”. The ponds are unlined and earthen dams are used to contain the contamination. Wet coal ash storage is untenable in the long term. Karen Chávez is an award-winning outdoors and environment reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times and USA TODAY Network. 3. Employment: Jobs at Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine. Out of these cookies, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. While Mayfield said she has been urging creation of the task force “for years,” she hasn’t been able to get traction among council members. Each additional 1,000 gallons of water is $5.30 per 1,000 gallons used. * denotes Asheville city section of river. French Broad Outpost Ranch is the best Dude Ranch in Tennessee for a memorable Tennessee vacations for families. Asheville, North Carolina — In 1834, a freshwater mussel collected near the convergence of the Swannanoa and French Broad Rivers was recognized as a new species – the Appalachian elktoe. Enjoying a craft beer alongside the French Broad River. If you scroll down and look underneath the first chart, you will see a highlighted box with the most recent reading of the French Broad River level, measured in CFS (cubic feet per second). Class B surface waters are those suitable for primary recreational activities including swimming and tubing, which involve human body contact with water. The stretch consists mostly of splashy and fun Class II and Class III rapids, with one Class IV rapid, Frank Bell’s, just before the town of Hot Springs. I encourage folks when they ask about an individual site, look at the trend, not just one week’s numbers. For 117 miles, the French Broad River flows freely northward from its headwaters in Transylvania County, N.C. “And it's always a good idea to rinse off after you get in the river. The river is infamous for the historical levels of pollution from the Champion Paper mill in Canton, North Carolina - pollution which eliminated a lot of life from the river. These are the same things that could be said for getting in any body of water, including a swimming pool in your backyard.”. Our high water cut off for float trips and rental boating equipment is 3,000 CFS. Samples taken by the French Broad Riverkeeper showed higher than normal levels of pollutants from coal combustion waste, including boron and metals like cobalt, barium, manganese, and nickel, all listed as toxic substances by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Years of conversations about the river’s missing sloughs led to an ambitious idea—to restore a floodplain back to its natural condition. By design, the dams leak in order to avoid the potentially catastrophic safety problem of pressure build-up over time. Visit for more information about coal ash in your area and what you can do to put a stop to wet coal ash storage. If you have open sores, you either need to cover them really well or don't get in the water,” Ditzler said. Abstract. But overall she feels comfortable having people in her tubes on the water. The Riverkeeper’s is to monitor for recreational use advisories. At the same time, the Buncombe County Health Department has not issued any recreation or health advisories for the popular, easily accessible river so far this summer, implying that the river is safe for recreation. “Enter in Conserving Carolina,” Scott says. As the French Broad nears Asheville, the river becomes much wider, and a water-treatment facility built on the river’s banks provides drinking water to the region. Nobody knows the real levels of contamination. After leaving North Carolina, the French Broad proc… Over the next several decades, the ancient river became increasingly polluted with modern garbage—everything from household waste to industrial runoff. However, as with a constantly rolling river, testing results can change in a flash. Of the 34 sites that were tested, only four passed. She has three months left on council now that she is running for the 49th District in the N.C. Senate. Watershed: The French Broad River. Pollutants continue to flow through the seeps, entering the river at points that used to be, but now aren’t, covered by the permit. We believe that healthy rivers support healthy communities. Outdoor outfitters say they have been running fewer trips this summer, but that is due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, not because of possibly high levels of fecal matter in the water. As staff attorney Amelia Burnette of the Southern Environmental Law Center put it: “Wet storage of coal ash waste in unlined ponds causes a slew of problems. The state agency ensures safe drinking water, evaluates water quality and enforces actions for violations of environmental regulations. Unlike MountainTrue, the DEQ uses a water quality standard for bacteria based on fecal coliform which “is not to exceed a geometric mean of 200 cfu/100 milliliter for at least sampling five events within a 30-day period nor exceed 400/100ml more than 20% of sample during such period.”. Binding is sound. Cleanup efforts are expected to continue into 2014 and cost $1.2 billion. Point source pollution comes directly from industry and sewage treatment plants, which discharge treated wastewater. Blue Ridge Outdoors is your guide to fly fishing in the Southeast, moutain biking in the Blue Ridge and adventure travel from the Highlands to the Piedmont. A toxic stew of pig poop, sewage and coal ash. Bacteria pollution comes from agricultural runoff, sewage leaks and faulty wastewater treatment plants. This would classify the river as “impaired,” based on last year’s bacteria data coupled with this year’s data, said DEQ spokeswoman Anna Gurney. In 2015, … 8 3/4" X 10 1/4". The Asheville facility is a microcosm of communities across Appalachia. “Progress can’t continue to ignore the pollution that results from storing toxic ash left from burning coal.” The plant has two old coal ash ponds, built in 1964 and 1982, that sprawl over 90 acres adjacent to the French Broad River. Sediment pollution is caused by … High levels of E. coli in surface water is an indication of potential point and nonpoint source pollution, according to the DEQ. Portland: Photolucida, 2011. A former industrial swath along the river, the greenway/bikeway provides accessibility to the river that we didn't have before. This year the results have been even worse, said Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson, with 69% failing. Reach me: or on Twitter @KarenChavezACT, Read more outdoors news:, How to keep your sink clean and germ-free with your own cleaning solution. Dams throughout Appalachia hold back tens of millions of coal ash. The French Broad River flows 218 miles (351 km) from near the town of Rosman in Transylvania County, North Carolina, into the state of Tennessee.Its confluence with the Holston River at Knoxville is the beginning of the Tennessee River.The river flows through the counties of Transylvania, Buncombe, Henderson, and Madison in North Carolina, and Cocke, Jefferson, Sevier, and Knox in Tennessee. The French Broad Riverkeeper, a program of environmental nonprofit MountainTrue, works with volunteers to conduct weekly bacteria sampling along the French Broad River throughout the spring, summer and fall, and posts results at to let people know where it’s safest to recreate. In 2019, the program found more than half of the sites failed to meet the EPA’s E. coli standard for safe recreation. Dude Ranch in Tennessee Our Dude Ranch vacation includes various exciting activities that doesn’t involve phones or any electronics. Essentially permits-to-pollute, each permit allows the recipient to discharge a certain amount of pollution daily. She envisions “an informal, time-limited group that would come together, with experts from MountainTrue, Asheville GreenWorks, RiverLink and maybe other folks in the community, to prioritize what the issues that the city should be tackling and trying to make progress on those.”. In March the state of North Carolina filed a separate lawsuit. Call on Asheville City Council to do its part to clean up the French Broad River, starting with the establishment of a Stormwater Task Force to address the City’s water pollution problems. Already people are flocking to enjoy it. The Duke Energy coal-fired power plant sits on a 90-acre complex adjacent to the French Broad River just seven miles downstream of Asheville. In that accident, the dam released over 100 million gallons of coal ash, contaminating the Oughoughton Creek and Delaware River. The earthen dams leak, seeping heavy metals and other pollutants found in coal ash into the French Broad. “Half of those not only failed, but exceeded the safe standard by almost five times.”. Discover what makes the French Broad River so special and learn about the many ways it connects our community. An investigation of water quality in the French Broad River in North Carolina has resulted in the definition of variations in water quality, a determination of the degree to which the quality of water in the river has been affected by man 's activities, and an analysis of trends in the changing chemical quality of the river. Our reports include everything from data on 18 months of water-quality violations to recent legal action regarding coal ash ponds located close to the river in Buncombe County. I think that's key. Monitoring results for the week of Aug. 6 followed a declining trend this year in water quality. E. coli, a type of fecal coliform, is a species of bacteria found in the environment, food and human and animal intestines. Not only does the City have a legal obligation to protect water quality, Council’s commitment to racial equity demands action to protect residents of the Southside neighborhood from the highest pollution levels … In January 2013, the Southern Environmental Law Center gave Duke Energy a 60-day notice that, if the environmental problems go unaddressed, a lawsuit will be brought pursuant to the Clean Water Act. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the business to open later than usual and reduce its business significantly by requiring reservations, social distancing on the shuttle buses and extra cleaning of the inner tubes in between guests, Ditzler said. Some Southeast states have tougher standards for handling household garbage than they do for the disposal of coal ash. The Asheville plant, constructed in the 1960s, lacks the advancements of newer plants that use a dry-storage system where coal is stored in lined holes under a secure covering. During the 18th century, industrialization swept the river’s banks and the river’s pollution kept rate with the urban development. “And while the city can’t fix problems along the entire river, it must do its part. Conserving Carolina learned about some land available off Butler Bridge Road near Fletcher, where Mud Creek flows into the French Broad. Leaks Bypassing the On-Site Treatment System. 94pp. One only has to look five years back in time to be reminded of the catastrophic risk associated with using earthen dams – a dam could burst. The coal ash mixes with water to form a toxic slurry. We can prevent the insidious threats coal ash slurry poses to the region’s most prized resource now, while it’s still possible. As more is learned about the Tuesday wastewater spill on the French Broad River, our ongoing special report on the French Broad River, begun last July, can be found here. Outdoor groups are advocating for the EPA to implement strong, enforceable rules to regulate coal ash. None of the sites within Asheville city limits passed, and the Hominy Creek Greenway’s results topping out at over 70,000 cfu or 300 times the EPA standard, Carson said. More: Nearly 50 years since Clean Water Act, has it helped the French Broad River? “There are a lot of days when you see clear down to the bottom of the river.”. Very mild shelf wear to covers, corners, and edges of gray cloth over boards. It flows northeast into Henderson County, where it turns northwest and courses through Buncombe and Madison Counties. Progress Energy is one of the greatest offenders, with their power plant located south of Asheville polluting both the water and air, according to the study. By 1951, author Wilma Dykman called the river “too thick to drink and too thin to plow.” She wrote The French Broad, which raised awareness about the polluted river. E. coli bacteria makes its way into rivers and streams through agricultural runoff, leaking sewer or septic infrastructure, and getting churned up during rain events, Carson said. By Gary Peeples, Deputy Field Office Supervisor/Public Affairs Officer March 22, 2018. The Riverkeeper frequently monitors levels of E. Coli -- the bacteria found in human and animal waste. If the Southern Appalachian peaks are the soul of Western North Carolina, the French Broad River is the region’s pulse. The French Broad flows north. Despite the acknowledged contamination, in December 2012 the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission voted to allow the Asheville facility to continuing contaminating groundwater. Instead, a fecal coliform standard is used by multiple sampling events, especially in water like the French Broad River where water quality conditions can change quickly. My mountain city is getting close to finishing a 2-mile greenway along the French Broad River. More than half still not meeting the safe standard, but it was a marked improvement. “This isn’t just an issue of public health, it’s also an issue of adapting to climate change and addressing racial equity, which the city has named as top priorities,” Carson said. The French Broad is one of the few north-flowing rivers in the country. There it teems with fish and is wild and untamed. Flurry of Activity. The DWR is monitoring to evaluate for 303(d) listing, to assist with source identification and ultimately pollution reduction, but it is not focused on recreational use, Gurney said. The French Broad River is 213 miles long. Eighty years later, Carnegie Museum curator … The French Broad River Basin in North Carolina is composed of three major subbasins, each of which individually flow northwest into Tennessee: French Broad River, Pigeon River, and These cookies do not store any personal information. While the midtown location is now closed for the season, the South location is still running 2 1/2-hour float trips from just north of the Asheville Airport to the outfitter access on Brevard Road. Thallium poses health risks to people and is suspected to cause cancer. The Riverkeeper uses a standard of 235 cfu (colony forming units) per 100 milliliters of water, a value set out by the EPA some 35 years ago. N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources, Bill supported by Edwards, McGrady gives a boost to water quality in WNC. For subscribers: Could a bacteria-chomping mussel be the answer to E. coli in the French Broad River? With the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, the river was on its way to becoming the world-class recreation area enjoyed today. During the 18th century, industrialization swept the river’s banks and the river’s pollution kept rate with the urban development. This is the point Jen Ditzler, owner of Zen Tubing, likes to impart to her customers. This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. The Broad River Water Authority (BRWA) rate structure for residential customers is $28.20 base rate per month, and includes the first 1,000 gallons of water used. But the lurking dangers of the unsafe disposal of coal ash threaten the long-term health of the river and the region. ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — Water quality in the French Broad River is getting worse, according to new data. But testing by the French Broad Riverkeeper and the state DEQ show that levels of E. coli bacteria pollution, on average, have been rising. By 1951, author Wilma Dykman called the river “too thick to drink and too thin to plow.” She wrote The French Broad, which raised awareness about the polluted river. With its headwaters in North Carolina, the river is 228 miles long in its entirety, including 102 miles within the state of Tennessee. There's a graph on the swim guide, and it'll show you that the percentage of time that site passes. There the river becomes wilder, winding through Pisgah National Forest. In a presentation earlier this year to the city’s Planning and Economic Development Committee, Landon Davidson with the DWR and Carson outlined some steps the city could take toward pollution control, including evaluating stormwater program enhancements to determine bacteria sources, enhancing public outreach through signage at river access points and forming a Stormwater Task Force. … Storing wet coal ash in unlined ponds causes groundwater contamination, and the groundwater eventually flows into tributaries of the French Broad or directly into the river itself. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. by brebro on November 21, 2018 at 7:46 pm. Fishers, swimmers, tubers, and flat water paddlers find plenty of river access. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website. “You could go out every day and take a picture at the same time for, say, a year, and you'll get a different color and a different look to the river every single day,” she said. We offer a very relaxing and enjoyable vacation for families in our own beautiful dude ranch. The agency is now sampling water on the French Broad River at Old Fanning Bridge Road, Bent Creek, Craven Street, Pearson’s Bridge and in Woodfin. └ Tags: bacteria, e-coli, environment, French Broad, pollution, River, sewage, straight piping, The French Broad River, tubing, turbidity, waste, water, waterways Comment . Ditzler said the company relies on information from the DEQ and health department rather than that of MountainTrue. Related: Bill supported by Edwards, McGrady gives a boost to water quality in WNC. However, while most French people are able to drink tap water, a total of 2.8 million people have come into contact with the tap water pollution. If the Southern Appalachian peaks are the soul of Western North Carolina, the French Broad River is the region’s pulse. As happens in many cities, artists often move into run-down industrial and … The 2008 Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston, Tenn., ash spill devastated the Emory River. Progress moved its discharge point in 2012. While the previous week showed only 12% of sites passed the safe standard for E. coli, this week 44% passed. In the absence of federal safeguards, state laws govern coal ash. If the French Broad River seems to be looking a little browner than usual this summer, it’s not a mirage. Spine and front cover stamped in gray. Water quality in the French Broad River is getting worse, according to new data. Too often state laws are a cobbled patchwork of inconsistent and confusing laws, difficult to enforce. It is also protected because it supports secondary recreation, including fishing, fish consumption, and agriculture. She said she believes the city’s priority should be on Nasty Branch, also known as Town Branch, which drains from half of downtown Asheville and flows through the historically Black Southside neighborhood before discharging into the French Broad River in the River Arts District. The legal claim is that Progress is essentially bypassing the standards, conditions, and monitoring required by the Clean Water Act, since the seeps are exiting through the permitted area. But opting out of some of these cookies may have an effect on your browsing experience. Elevated levels of E. coli can indicate potential fecal contamination, which can cause gastrointestinal illnesses. “If impaired, it would only include the sections that we are sampling and where the data supports an impairment which indicates the stream segment is not meeting Class B designated use,” Gurney said. MountainTrue said 69 percent of testing sites failed to meet the EPA's e. … The French Broad River contains high levels of arsenic, selenium, cadmium and other toxins from coal-burning power plants near the river, according to a recent Duke University study. Only fifteen minutes from downtown, a series of ledges spread out over about 200 yards of river provides paddlers the opportunity to work out doing attainments up the rapid. “The ideal situation is the creation of a stormwater commission, just like we have a tree commission because I think this is an issue that needs that level of attention,” Mayfield said. Once referred to as the “Trashy Broad,” today people no longer smell the French Broad River before seeing her. Your California Privacy Rights/Privacy Policy, Nasty Branch in Asheville’s Southside Neighborhood*, French Broad River at River Arts District*. French Broad River. Carson admits that’s a flaw in testing and said after the rains Aug. 13, the levels might have spiked again. The French Broad flows through the city of Asheville, where it picks up the Swannanoa River and continues north into Tennessee. The dams, some of which are forty or more years old, are essentially ticking time bombs. The price of safeguarding our water today is a fraction of the cleanup costs imposed by tomorrow’s polluted waterways. You also have the option to opt-out of these cookies. ... Another French Broad River sewage spill. The French Broad now supplies over one million people with drinking water, countless recreational opportunities, and scenic vistas. “We tell them don't drink the water. "All of that rolled into one is bringing more pollution into the river.” To put it bluntly, she says the French Broad River watershed is increasingly becoming the region’s unflushed toilet bowl. She said the city needs a group that's looking at best practices and advocating for more dollars from the city for these kinds of investments. Ditzler, who is also an environmental engineer, said this summer has been like no other for the company, which has been in business since 2012 with locations in South Asheville on Brevard Road and “midtown,” on Riverside Drive. The upper mainstem French Broad River system drains from the high mountains of the Blue Ridge and flows through the broad, flat valley of the Asheville Basin. North Carolina does not currently have a regulatory standard for E. coli. According to the National Weather Service, as of Aug. 13 there has been 5.53 inches of rainfall in Asheville, compared to 3.98 inches for all of August 2019. The Kingston catastrophe isn’t an isolated incident. The Clean Water Act requires any entity that plans to discharge a form of wastewater directly into a body of water to receive a federal permit given and enforced by the state. Endangered mussel making a comeback in the French Broad River. The Riverkeeper project and the DEQ’s Water Resources Division’s E. coli monitoring program have different purposes. Related: NC DEQ issues water quality violation notice to Tryon Equestrian Center. The City of Asheville is … The lawsuit stated that, “continued operation of the Asheville Plant in violation of groundwater standards (and state law) without assessing the problem and taking corrective action poses a serious danger to the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the State of North Carolina and serious harm to the water resources of the state.” The lawsuit demands Duke Energy report the cause and extent of their discharge into the French Broad and groundwater. French Broad River Recreation & Pollution In the 1890s, citizens of the rapidly growing town of Asheville turned to the French Broad as the solution for a stinky issue: trash disposal . Sediment and bacteria pollution are the most common sources of pollution in the French Broad Watershed, Carson said. The samples were taken far from where the pollutants are first discharged into the tributaries. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources, which monitors five sites weekly along the French Broad in the Asheville area, however, says there is an overall upward trend in levels of bacteria in the French Broad and is evaluating the river to be placed on the state 303(d) list. Carson states a sample taken Jan. 27 behind the former location of the 12 Bones Smokehouse contained 65 times more than the safe limit for E. coli, a bacteria known for causing illness in humans. The renaissance of the River Arts District, as the area is commonly known, continues with New Belgium Brewing Company’s announcement last year of plans to invest $175 million into building a new beer-making operation in the industrial zone. The source of the chocolatey soup-like quality of the river that runs through Asheville could be from heavy rain, increased sedimentation from construction runoff or sewage leaks, water quality monitors say. Related: WNC outdoor outfitters reopen, with COVID-19 safety precautions. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. If we wait too long, we won’t be able to separate contaminated groundwater from the river or pull heavy metals from the deep sediment layers. RiverLink’s Watershed Resources program works to improve water quality in the French Broad River and its tributaries. The week of May 20 of this year was the worst week of sampling in more than seven years of data collection by MountainTrue, he said. French Broad River is formed by the junction of North Fork and West Fork in southern Transylvania County near the town of Rosman. Julie Mayfield, co-executive director of MountainTrue, is also a city councilwoman who is promoting the task force. Germs and bacteria can linger in your sink and transfer to your dishes. The French Broad River ... Due to weak enforcement of the Clean Water Act's mandates and consistent non-point source pollution, the French Broad River is now becoming less healthy for the first time since the passage of the Clean Water Act, which threatens the reversal of such enormous progress. The Pigeon River of Western North Carolina and East Tennessee rises above Canton, North Carolina, is impounded by Walters Dam, enters Tennessee, and flows into the French Broad River, just past Newport, Tennessee.The river traverses the Pisgah National Forest and the Cherokee National Forest, and drains much of the northeastern Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After the Kingston disaster, the EPA sent out inspectors to determine the structural safety of these dams and rated the 1964 Asheville pond as “poor.” Since then, the EPA has upgraded the dam to a “satisfactory” rating.

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