Haw River, which feeds Jordan Lake, ranked among 'most endangere - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Haw River, which feeds Jordan Lake, ranked among 'most endangered' in U.S.

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PITTSBORO, N.C. -

An environmental group has named the Haw River in North Carolina one of the 10 most endangered rivers in the United States.

“It's our water. We use it. But, we're kind of abusing it right now," said river keeper Elaine Chiosso.

Chiosso said run-off pollution and lack of regulation are just two reasons the Haw was named one of the most endangered rivers in the country by the environmental group, “American Rivers.”

"The pollution continues to come down every day,” Chiosso said.

The Haw River flows to Jordan Lake, the water supply for some 300,000 people in the Triangle area. In 2009, the General Assembly passed a set of rules for communities upstream to follow to help protect the water supply.

But last year, lawmakers put those rules on hold.

Next month, crews will install more than two dozen devices called SolarBees on the lake that are aimed at keeping the water moving. The goal is to reduce algae, which has been a primary pollution concern.

But Chiosso said, "We think it's just a preposterous idea."

State Rep. John Faircloth, a Republican who is the co-chair of the Committee on Jordan Lake, said they will look at the results of the devices in about a year.

He said “the rules are still there - if this isn’t a better solution, then we may fall back on those rules.”

Faircloth said the focus is on the lake, not the river, at this point.

“That’s the immediate pressing problem. Simply carrying out the rules as they were written was not getting the job done,” he said.

But Chiosso said what happens along the Haw eventually makes its way to Jordan Lake and beyond, so efforts should be made to reduce the pollution from entering the river.

Faircloth said, “That very well may be a true statement as what needs to be done, purifying the river. We’ll never get to that point with any of our rivers.”

Chiosso also said people upstream need to do more to keep the river clean.

“It means that death by a thousand cuts, you know. Everybody really does need to do their share in this watershed to clean up the water,” she said.

Her suggestions include cutting the use of fertilizer, picking up pet waste and keeping oil out of sewer drains.

She hopes the river’s notorious new title will bring change.

"It is kind of sad to see your river make the Most Endangered Rivers list, but we do hope that the national attention and the state attention of shining this spotlight on our river will help us fix some of these problems," she said.

The Committee on Jordan Lake will hear comments from the public at its next meeting on April 16 at 9 a.m. in room 544 of the legislative office building.

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