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Chowan River Basin Plan Input Sought

Cypress trees on the Chowan River. Photo: Charles Braswell Jr./NCDEQ

The comment period is open through Oct. 30 on the draft 2020 Chowan River Basinwide Water Resources Plan, used to identify areas that need additional protection, restoration, or preservation to ensure waters of the state are meeting their designated use.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Division of Water Resources is requesting public review and input of the draft basin plan that provides a comprehensive examination and explanation of the planning process for water quality and quantity issues in the basin.

The Chowan River basin is in Virginia and North Carolina. The Chowan River begins where the Blackwater, Nottaway and Meherrin rivers merge near the state line and then flows to the Albemarle Sound and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. An estimated 95,000 people live in the North Carolina portion of the river basin. Bertie, Chowan, Gates, Herford and Northampton counties are either fully or partially in the basin.

Comments on the proposed plan may be emailed to forest.shepherd@ncdenr.gov or mailed to Forest Shepherd, Basin Planner, Division of Water Resources, Department of Environmental Quality, 1611 MSC, Raleigh, NC 27699. The Fact Sheet can be found here.

Based on 2016 land use data, nearly 36% of land in the North Carolina portion of the basin is identified as forest, 29% is identified as agriculture and 20% is wetlands.

Algal blooms have reemerged as a major water quality concern in the basin over the past several years. Some of the blooms have been identified as potentially harmful algal blooms (pHAB) capable of producing toxins. The Basin Plan includes recommendations to address and identify potential pollution sources that may be contributing to excess nutrients and the algal blooms in the basin.

Public comments will be considered for incorporation into the Basin Plan. The Basin Plan is scheduled to be presented to the Environmental Management Commission January 2021 for final approval. DWR will work with stakeholders to implement approved recommendations.

Basin plans are required under General Statute 143-215.8B and are approved by the EMC every 10 years (Session Law 2012-200).

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.