By: Steve Trubilla
For well over a decade you have been told about untreated sewage waste water being released in local river tributaries. Not a gallon or even 10 gallons; over time, tens of thousands of gallons.
As a matter of routine when we experience heavy rain, pumping stations that are to channel sewage waste water become overwhelmed. The result is it then overflows to river tributaries, then to the water supply.
The fact of this is not in dispute. Franklin County officials have been reporting these spills for years, as required by North Carolina State Law, to the North Carolina Division of Water Quality via the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management.
I have read press releases that contain the words of, "the spills have been reported and are under review." Each press release I have read contains the very same words of "are under review."
What I could not find is the actual report of the review conducted, or the hard plan to relieve or mitigate future spills. I have searched the Franklin County website for this.
I have read the cause of this is the rain. Of course the rain is a causative factor. The rain is going to come and fixing blame on it does absolutely nothing to stop the next predictable overflow.
Given the grave and predictable consequences of this, one would think the subject would dominate the agenda at county commissioners meetings. Reviewing volumes of notes from the agenda records the subject reflected little interest.
Searching further, I again reviewed the Franklin County website for warnings, notices, updates and/or a plan of action. I found the site less than informative.
When I reviewed the North Carolina laws and rules for sewage treatment and disposal systems, Article 11, Chapter 130A of NCGS 15A NCAC 18A .1900 et seq. this was not the case. There are very clear penalties for noncompliance. I do not understand why Franklin County has not already become subject to them, and suspect it is only a matter of time until it happens.
I understand this is not a simple problem and fixing it will cost a great deal. That said, where are the priorities? What price would you place on your family's health? Is half of a million dollars for a park and so many others things more important? What tail is wagging this dog? The function of government, if nothing else, is to protect the citizens. Where and who is the powerful voice of leadership on this?
If we need help, someone needs to ask for it. We cannot just let this go on.
Do you know what untreated sewage is?
Here is one definition. Material that has been released from homes, hospitals, or industry after it has been used or altered. It may contain significant concentrations of environmental pollutants.
It can be every manner of waste you can call to mind. Human waste, known cancer causing chemicals, mercury, lead, petroleum products, and the list is endless. It is whatever someone wants it to be.
So maybe you have a well, live remotely, and believe you are safe. Do you know what aquifers and confining beds are? Space in this article will not allow for an in-depth explanation of these natural systems. Do a little research and you will quickly learn you are not safe at all.
Contamination to the water can be decades destructive, and irreversible, as has been seen other places. The earth is forgiving but not all forgiving.
Flint, Michigan is a big city, and a long way from Franklin County NC, yet everyone knows of their water problems. Elected officials were aware of the predictable disaster; many did nothing. The story has been all over the headlines. Headlines fade, and people are left to fend for themselves. Did you ever hear of Adrian, Minnesota, or Anne Arundel County, Maryland? Their stories reveal what contaminated water will do to a place. You will hear of viral diseases such as hepatitis A, cancer, respiratory ailments, and dead zones where no aquatic creature can survive. You will hear of property values that have fallen, and businesses that have failed.
How tragic it would be to allow this in Franklin County. It does not have to, but it can!
What I have shared with you about these spills is not that maybe they are going to happen, it is happening. The next spill may only be the next heavy rain away. How much damage is too much damage?
It is election time, can we talk about this now, If not now, when?
Two sitting county commissioners are not seeking re-election, and a third, Commissioner Sidney Dunston, faces a primary challenge. Others are willing to take up the challenge. Their names include Ginger Baker, Danny Pearce, Roger Lytle, Michael Schriver, Johnnie Clifton, and others.
Do you believe things are going to change with this under the current leadership? If not, then change the leadership. Not counting today, there are 14 days until early voting starts on March 3. You have until Feb. 19th to register.