Unneeded Dam on First Broad River Turned Back
I am excited to share a great victory for rivers with you: the proposed impoundment on the First Broad River in North Carolina has been sent back to the drawing board!
The water authority in Cleveland County, North Carolina has been trying to build this $95 million to $182 million unneeded reservoir [PDF] since 1990. If built it would needlessly inundate approximately 24 miles of river and streams and 1,200 acres of forested and agricultural land. Over the years the offered reasons for the impoundment have shifted from just an amenity lake to unneeded water for a proposed nuclear power plant in South Carolina and most recently for additional water supply when there is plenty of water in the region.
Studies commissioned by the water district at the request of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have repeatedly identified less environmentally damaging alternatives that would meet projected water supply needs for the district in even the worst drought conditions. It is a project without a cause that would destroy a beautiful river resource including some great fishing habitat.
Last year, the state of North Carolina decided not to do its job under section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act and review the water quality impacts the proposed project would cause. The information from this review is critical to understand the full scope of the impact that would be caused by impounding the First Broad and deciding if that is acceptable. American Rivers sued the state in 2013 to force them to do their job under the Clean Water Act and provide a full review on the impacts to the First Broad.
We WON! In January, the State withdrew their waiver of the section 401 review realizing that we were likely to win the case. The proponents of this new impoundment will now need to continue to try to find proof that their useless project is more valuable that the free flowing First Broad River … an unlikely outcome at this point. So, if you live near the First Broad or happen to be traveling through the area- grab your fishing rod or your boat and go out and enjoy a beautiful resource tucked in the foot hills of western North Carolina!