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Welcome to The Kicker from Carolina Public Press, a North Carolina news show bringing you conversations with journalists, sources and newsmakers from across the state. In this episode, host and producer Peter Kent talks with Carolina Public Press Managing Editor Frank Taylor about the status of and threats to dams across North Carolina, in light of recent flooding related to Hurricane Florence.
In this episode, we discuss:
Money, money, money
The North Carolina lakeside town best known as the setting for the film Dirty Dancing is dealing with a threatened dam that needs $5 million to repair. Plans to fix the problems are now facing delays.
The costs of dam repairs and maintenance contributed to one North Carolina county trying to sell the management of its water system to an out-of-state entity, in a nearly unprecedented (in North Carolina, anyway) move that ultimately failed.
One Montgomery County man wanted to know what would happen if the dam creating Lake Tillery failed. What he found out was, among other things, that the county wanted to bill him $3,000 to answer his questions.
Right now, nearly any talk about dams in North Carolina will eventually lead to coal ash basins. We’ve reported on coal ash dams for more than two years, including how, in 2016, state environmental regulators then said they planned to focus on coal ash basin dam safety. Earlier that year, residents around the Cliffside coal ash basin contested statements that the dam there was ‘low-risk.’
Now, after Hurricane Florence, a dam breach in eastern North Carolina, alongside Duke Energy’s L.V. Sutton power plant, sent coal ash into the Cape Fear River.
Dams impact multiple waterways across the state, including, notably, the Catawba River. American Rivers, a Washington-based environmental advocacy group, featured the 225-mile-long Catawba River as one of America’s top 10 most endangered rivers in 2013. It was the waterway’s third time on the list since 2001.
Resources on NC dams
Want to learn more, especially the status of a dam in your community? Here are a few resources to bookmark:
- The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality dam safety site
- The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality dam inventory spreadsheet
Coming up on The Kicker
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