A study soon to be released from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service's Neuse Education Team will provide the tools to build a better educational program that focuses on what the people want - science based solutions. A total of 20 focus groups were conducted during a five-month period using a water quality survey of 10 questions. 
    "The consistent theme that emerged, regardless of each groups knowledge level about what ails the Neuse, is the need for better education and science-based information," says Dr. Deanna Osmond, Neuse River Education Team member and lead author of " What Constituents in the Neuse Basin Think." 
    Constituency groups representing most interests in the Neuse River Basin were surveyed: local government officials, builders and developers, business persons, the landscaping/lawn care sector, golf course superintendants, homeowners, forestry interests, agricultural producers, and environmental groups. Each group consisted of three to fifteen individuals with similar professions or interests. 
    Throughout the discussions, the lack of knowledge about pollution and its relationship to water quality in the Neuse River was continually cited as the main obstacle preventing each group from making some changes in their respective areas/industry. Constituents sought unbiased, reliable sources of information that describe the water quality conditions in the neuse and their effects on the estuary. They also want this information put in historical context. 
    "This study provides a scientific basis for the educational programming the Team is currently involved with in the Neuse River Basin," says Mitch Woodward. 
Andy Fisher
 
    Neuse Education Team members brought upper basin officials togethre with lower basin citizens in a fall tour designed to foster better understanding between these key groups in the Neuse River Basin. The two-day, seven-city tour explored North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service water quality projects from Cary to New Bern. The tour included urban, suburban and agricultural projects. 
    "We wanted to show projects that were dealing with the whole range of pollution concerns," says Mitch Woodward, coordinator of the Neuse Education Team. Remember; by simply living in the basin everyone is a part of the problem. But we can also become part of the solution," he says. 
    Tour participants  learned about a succesful water-quality education progrma in Cary, visited two urban stormwater demonstration sites in Wilson, and toured a swine farm in Jones County, The tour also included a boat trip on the Trent and Neuse Rivers where participants viewed actual river conditions and engaged in dialogue to better understand local concerns and the scope of riverfront development. 
    "Knowledge and understanding provides solutions," says Craven Hudson, Neuse education Team member and lead organizer for the event. 
    Hudson says that just as important as bringing upper basin officials down the river to learn about on-going, research-based water qualiy projects, was the meeting between upper and lower Neuse interests in the first night in New Bern. Citizens from both ends of the basin were open and honest about the myraid of issues the Neuse River faces. 
    "Of course there was some tension. But as the evening and discussion progressed, I really feel thyat progress was made," says Hudson. 
    He believes that the Neuse Education team's role, through partnering with other Extension personnel in the basin, is not only to provide science-based solutions in a practical sense, but also to combat misinformation-a huge education obstacle according to Hudson. 
    Hudson says that future ours are a definite possibility. But for now he is content with what the Neuse education Team's inaugural tour accomplished. 
    "This team was able to bring together decision makers from opposite ends of the issue, to learn from each other about workable solutions to improve water quality," he says " Cleaning up the Neuse River will not occur overnight. What this tour represents is a solid commitment from citizens on both ends of the basin to work together, while workind toward solutions." 
Andy Fisher
 
 
    If cleaning up the Neuse River is going to mean more than simply a catchy phrase,environmental education must be focused on our youth. They are tomorrow's leaders and decision-makers. A 4-H project in Lenoir County is helping to ensure that this need is met. 
    "Helping our children develop awareness, knowledge and skills for sound water-use decisions is very important," says Mary Smith, a Lenior County 4-H agent who leads the Neuse River Project. 
    "They will soon be making water resource management decisions ," she says. 
    The Neuse River 4-H project, which targets third-twelfth graders, is an environmental project that encompasses both education and community service. A learn and Serve America Grant through the North Carolina Commision on National and Community Service funds the project. 
    "Students gain an increased knowledge about the environment and an appreciation for the importance of water quality," Smith says. 
    The project began in the fall of 1997 to increase youth awareness about the Neuse River. Smith wanted to develop a proactive, community-based water awareness program. And although the project has been underway only a little more than a year, Smith is encouraged by what she has seen. 
    "the students and teachers involved in this project have been outstanding. These students really do have a refreshing hunger and enthusiasm for water quality, especially the science behind it all," she says. 
    The Neuse River 4-H project has enjoyed many successes since its inception last fall. 4-H members partnered with Kinston high School Science Club to lead a storm drain stenciling project and met with Kinston Mayor Johnnie Mosley to proclaim March 18-19 as "Storm Drain Awareness Days." The 4-H'ers were also involved in a Neuse River panel discussion where they were able to ask political and industry leaders various water quality questions. 
    "The point of all these activities is to make learning about science and water quality fun," says Smith. "We are trying to connect these kids to the Neuse River so that they will learn to better appreciate and respect it." 
Andy Fisher
This summary is intended to provide a brief update on the Neuse Rules that became law 8/1/98. It should be used as an educational tool. For more detailed information about the Neuse Rules, contact the state Division of Water Quality at (919)733-5083 Ext.357 or visit their World Wide Web site at: "http://h2o.enr.state.nc.us/nps/neuse.htm".
*The Buffer Stakeholder Advisory Commitee consists of;
  • Public at Large Member
  • Environmental Management Commission 
  • Division of Water Quality
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
  • Soil and Water Conservation Districts
  • North Carolina Association of County Commissioners
  • North Carolina League of Municipalities
  • University of North Carolina Water Resources Research Institute
  • Upper Neuse Basin Association
  • Lower Neuse Basin Association
  • North Carolina Association of Environmental Professionals
  • North Carolina American Planning Association
  • North Carolina Aggregates Association
  • North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry
  • North Carolina Farm Bureau
  • North Carolina Forestry Association
  • North Carolina Home Builders Association
  • A Commercial Land Developer
  • Conservation Council of North Carolina
  • North Carolina Environmental Defense Fund
  • Neuse River Foundation
  • North Carolina Sierra Club
  • North Carolina Wildlife Federation
 
 
 
 

The legislature passed House Bill 1402 at the close of this years session . What this means is the buffer rule, passed in the summer of 1997, remains in effect. This bill creates a Buffer Stakeholder Advisory Commitee which will review the buffer rule. The commitee is expected to finalize its recommendations to the EMC by April 1999.* 

  • HB 1402 adds the use of Natural Resources Conservation Services soil survey maps to the previously approved U.S. Geology Survey topographic maps to aid in surface water determination.
  • HB 1402 allows for mitigation or monetary payment in lieu of complying with the buffer law.
  • HB 1402 does not effect the buffer requirements listed under the agricultural rules.
  • Please reference the full document for complete details http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/.html1997bills/house/hbill1402.full.html
 
  • New Development will be required to meet maximum nitrogen loading of 3.6 pounds/acre/year
  • By 8/1/99 DWQ working with local governments, will submit a model local stormwater management plan to the EMC.
  • Within 12 months of the EMC's 
 
  • Collectively, agricultural operations will be required to achieve a 30% nitrogen reduction relative to 1991 - 1995 loadings.
  • Farmers have two options from which to choose:
Option 1: By August 1, 1999 all persons engaged in farming operations must sign up with the local advisory committee to participate in a County Nitrogen Plan being developed in your county. The best management practices selected would need to be implemented within 5 years. 

* Option 2: Implement standard BMPs (riparian areas, and/or controlled drainage, and/or nutrient management) within 4 years. 

 

  • Three categories of nutrient applicators are required to obtain a certificate verifying completion of nutrient management training by 8/1/03. 
  • 1 Persons who fertilize 50 acres of more per year of cropland. 

    2 Persons who fertilize 50 acres or more per year of turfgrass, golf courses, recreational areas, or rights of way. 

    3  Persons who commercially apply fertilizer to 50 acres or more of lawn and garden areas per year in residential, commercial, or industrial areas. 
     

  • Persons not receiving training will be required to develop and implement nutrient management plans. These plans must meet standards and specifications of the Natural Resource Conservation Service or the Soil and Water Conservation Commission.
 
 

Beginning with this NeuseLetter, "Partnerships" will become a regular feature on this page. Partnerships are an invaluable tool the Neuse Education Team uses as they conduct their basin-wide educational efforts. These collaborative ventures are especially important now that the proposed Neuse Rules have become law. The Neuse Education Team is a diverse group of problem solvers and the focus of their work is science-based solutions. However, the Neuse Education Team can not work in a vacuum. The environmental issues Neuse River Basin citizens face demand that this team collaborate with a number of state, federal, and local agencies, other universities, and the business community. This section will serve as a way to recognize those partners. There is no finer example of partnerships than last month's "Agricultural Solutions for the Neuse River Basin" water quality conference. Campus and field faculty form North Carolina State University lead a multiagency, multiuniversity effort to describe technologies and management strategies farmers will be able to use to comply with the Neuse Rules. The two-day conference explained riparian buffers, controlled drainage, and nutrient management as practical ways to help farmers. The conference also featured a workshop on alternative animal waste technology. The Neuse Education Team is grateful to the presenters and the conference participants for making this conference such a success. 

Andy Fisher
 

Editors: Andy Fisher and Mitch Woodward
Contributing Writer: Andy Fisher

North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
Wake County Extension Center
4001 (E) Carya Drive
Raleigh,NC 27610