Family, water and government

Published 8:10 pm Monday, March 11, 2019

To the Editor:

Most of us would do whatever we must to protect our families, and one of the most basic things we need is clean water. Government’s role is to protect public health and safety, including the water we drink, and we hire our elected representatives to figure out how best to do that. Would you make it a habit to go away and leave your front door open, then ignore when things go “missing?” Yet so few of us ever contact our elected officials to tell them what our priorities are, or check if they follow through.

The Feb. 16-17 issue of the Washington Daily News had an article about the Environmental Protection Agency rewriting the definition of which waters the federal government protects, in regulations that were already rewritten a few years ago. The EPA is now accepting public comment. Environmental groups warn this will damage fish and shellfish populations, harm wetlands that buffer property from storms and risk polluting groundwater. The federal government says the states can set standards for bodies of water the EPA will no longer protect, but the North Carolina legislature actually made a law forbidding environmental protections that are stricter than federal standards. Our state representatives are still dickering over what to do about the coal ash pits and GenX contamination of drinking water. Sounds like a shell game! Sounds like the public went away and left their “doors” wide open again.

I spent hours trying to read these regulations, and I still don’t know what the impact would be on Blounts Creek, a waterway I care a lot about. Water pollution laws are very important to Americans’ health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, these laws and regulations are complicated, and they have spawned a lot of litigation. Enforcement is also critical. People should not have to go to the courts for years and years to ensure the laws are enforced.

I think we all need to tell our representatives simply and directly that we expect clean water to be protected. Start with the legislature and the governor, then Congress and the EPA. If we can spend hours on Facebook, we can contact our representatives once a year. Tell them what you want and make sure they do it — otherwise vote them out!


Billie-Jean E. Mallison