07 Mar Fearrington’s Place in the Watershed
Fearrington’s Place in the Watershed: A Report on the March 1st Green Scene Program
On March 1, 50 concerned Fearringtonians were given a detailed briefing of conservation efforts in Chatham County by Allison Schwarz Weakly, who literally wrote the plan. Her presentation “Wine, Cheese and Water – Fearrington’s Place in the Watershed” ranged widely and in detail, covering the many environmental treasures of our surroundings and their complicated interrelationships. Of particular interest was the introduction to “A Comprehensive Conservation Plan For Chatham County, North Carolina” of March 2011.
On the question of Fearrington’s place in the watershed, and preserving its health, several points bear repeating:
- Fearrington water (groundwater, storm water, treated sewage) flows into Bush Creek, which flows into Jordan Lake. Bush Creek ends near Jack Bennett Road just after crossing Big Woods Road.
- Fearrington’s drinking water comes from the Jordan Lake Water Treatment Plant in Wilsonville. The water intake for the plant is at White Oak Creek near the plant. Hence Fearrington’s wastewater practices directly influence our watershed and drinking water treatment requirements.
- Jordan Lake waters are considered to be impaired, negatively impacted by pollution resulting in decreased water quality. Parts of Jordan Lake are subject to algal blooms, nitrates are high, turbidity is high. It is not a particularly healthy water body, especially north of the 64 causeway.
- Among the main factors that affect Bush Creek water are:
- Housing developments that have also broken up the Big Woods Wilderness, including the Governor’s Club, the Preserve at Jordan Lake and to some extent Fearrington Village.
- Construction runoff impacting aquatic life.
- Pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers contaminating the waters.
- Deer and cattle reducing plant communities and damaging tributary buffers. This causes erosion and reduces filtering of water before draining into Bush Creek.
- Bush Creek is sampled regularly by a group of Fearrington volunteers. The results are submitted to the Haw River Watch. Results indicate that they are among the worst in terms of invertebrate counts, which are a reliable indicator of water quality. Note: The Green Scene intends to look into this in order to make recommendations for improvement.
- What can Fearrington residents do to improve our watershed?
- Minimize water use. No matter how diligent you are, household wastewater contains contaminants such as metals, bacteria, nitrate, phosphorus, pharmaceuticals, etc.
- Avoid irrigation systems to reduce runoff. Indigenous and drought tolerant plants are preferred.
- Reduce the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Reducing or eliminating lawns that require various chemicals really helps.
- Improve the quality of the Waste Water Treatment output.
- Consider ways to reduce the deer population and do not feed deer.