Hyde County, partners seek grant for watershed plan

Published 5:47 pm Wednesday, May 10, 2017

SWAN QUARTER — Hyde County is moving forward with a $15,000 grant request to help cover the costs of compiling the Mattamuskeet Watershed Restoration Plan.

County Assistant Manager Kris Cahoon Noble received the OK to submit the grant application to the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management for the plan, which will be a nine-element proposal to promote water quality in Lake Mattamuskeet.

The process of developing and implementing a restoration plan is expected to cost $80,000. The county is looking to secure $60,000 in grant money from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the $15,000, according to the application.

Another $5,000 is factored in to account for compensating the county staff involved. Hyde County agreed to be responsible for somehow covering $20,000 of the needed funds.

“Key to the development of the plan is engagement of stakeholders with interests in the lake in an open process. These stakeholders are needed to identify and quantify the problems that need to be addressed and forge solutions and management actions,” the grant application states.

The Environmental Protection Agency designated Lake Mattamuskeet as an “impaired water body,” meaning it is too polluted for its intended use. Officials have noticed the significant decline in Mattamuskeet’s submerged aquatic vegetation, brought on by an influx of phytoplankton and sediments, which reduce water clarity and bar sunlight from reaching the underwater grasses.

Officials attribute this influx to a variety of factors, “including runoff from the surrounding farm fields and waterfowl impoundments draining to the lake, waterfowl feces and atmospheric deposition of nitrogen,” according to a Wildlife Resources article.

In the application, Noble also writes that tropical storms exacerbate the problem, and residents were inundated with flooding from the lake after Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Hyde County and its stakeholders plan to hold quarterly public meetings and present quarterly invoices to detail the progress on the plan. The next meeting on the matter is expected to take place in either June or July.

The overall goal is to present a final plan in October 2018, according to county Manager Bill Rich.