This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act, federal legislation designed to restore our waters and hold polluters responsible.

A month ago, Waterkeepers Carolina, a confederation of North Carolina Riverkeepers, joined with Waterkeepers around the globe in celebrating the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act is focused on protecting and improving the waters of the United Sates so that all citizens can enjoy water that is swimmable, drinkable and fishable.

Following the successful day of celebration focused on the fishable component, on July 26 Waterkeepers Carolina will again join Riverkeepers and Waterkeepers around the country in celebrating the Clean Water Act and its promise of water that is swimmable.

The focus of the Swimmable Action Day is to highlight nutrient and chemical pollution in North Carolina’s water bodies. Pollution prevents the state’s water bodies from being fully safe for swimming and recreating. The nutrient and chemical pollution problems arise from discharges from wastewater treatment facilities, septic systems, stormwater runoff from urban and agricultural sources, as well as discharges from crop and animal feeding operations.

Such discharges can lead to algal blooms, fish kills and fecal coliform contamination, posing a health risk for humans and creating an end result of waters that are not safe for swimming and recreating. Many of our major reservoirs, such as Falls Lake, Jordan Lake, Lake Rhoddiss and High Rock Lake continue to suffer the effects of such nutrient and chemical pollution, and in many areas around the state, water quality testing is not being done, leaving those who are using the waters to swim at their own risk.

On July 26, North Carolina Riverkeepers are asking citizens, in essence, to join the people of North Carolina and other Americans in demanding that we get the poop and chemicals out of our waters. The ability to swim and recreate in the waters of the state is one of the features that makes North Carolina so appealing.

Whether jumping into a swimming hole in the mountains or kayaking down a river flowing to the beaches, the people of North Carolina deserve clean and clear waters. It is again up to the actions of the citizens of the state to push our legislators to make the right decisions in upholding the promises of the Clean Water Act.

For more information, contact:

 WNCA’s French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson at Hartwell@wnca.org

 WNCA’s Upper Watauga Riverkeeper Donna Lisenby at lisenby.donna@gmail.com