Haywood Waterways works to educate citizens, provide opportunities for public involvement, helps coordinate water quality improvement projects, and monitors streams to identify issues. We are known by local government and community leaders as a valuable resource and credible advisor on resolving water resource issues. We partner with like-minded organizations to help willing landowners protect their land, reduce soil erosion, and improve our streams. We are local folks solving local problems that affect the economy, agriculture, drinking water, recreation, and wildlife. Our work has had tremendous impact on water quality and for the community.
Hyatt Creek was removed from the NC list of impaired waterways.
Since 1997, Haywood Waterways and our partners have collaborated on over 100 successful grant applications. These awards have brought over $6.34 million to Haywood County for water conservation and educational projects. Grant providers want to have confidence that their funds will be used wisely and for their intended purpose; this is a testament to that confidence, as well as our partnerships, monitoring programs, and community engagement efforts that are critical for every application.
In partnership with the Haywood County Environmental Health Department and NC Wastewater Discharge Elimination Program (WaDE, now defunct), we have repaired 81 septic systems. This has prevented as much as 29,160 gallons of untreated human waste from flushing into local streams each day.
As part of the Hyatt Creek Restoration Project, bacteria levels dropped 60 to 90% at three monitoring sites. Turbidity, total suspended solids, phosphorus and nitrogen levels were also reduced at multiple locations. As part of the Richland Creek Watershed Restoration Project in the Farmers Branch subwatershed, total suspended sediment levels dropped 11% and turbidity 39%.
Kids in the Creek has reached nearly 11,000 students in its 16 year history. We have documented: (1) more students knew that sediment is the #1 pollutant after the program than before; (2) students showed an increase in knowledge about water chemistry, benthic macroinvertebrates, and how important both were to assessing water quality; (3) 81% said it helped them better understand what they learned in class about aquatic ecosystems; (4) 67% changed their minds about taking care of or valuing natural resources like water; (5) >50% said they cared more about the environment after the program than before; (6) 68% said they were more likely to take action to preserve or protect the environment; and (7) 60% said their experience had inspired them to change behaviors toward the environment. Teachers also say "Kids in the Creek does more to increase students understanding of water and water quality than anything I could do in the classroom. It has been a valuable learning tool for many years and something the students and I look forward to every year" and "Kids in the Creek provides a one of a kind opportunity to let the kids connect with real science in a way few of them would ever get without it. Kids in the Creek is an absolutely vital program for us."
Rain barrels are a great tool for keeping gardens green, but the 159 we've sold to date have a much greater benefit for water quality. Annually they capture 103,350 gallons of stormwater and remove 206 pounds of atmospheric nitrogen, which can contribute to nuisance algal blooms. They also prevent rooftop-heated stormwater from reaching our cold-water trout streams. Over their 30 year lifespan, they will capture 3,100,500 gallons of stormwater and remove 6,176 pounds of nitrogen. The total value of these benefits is $140,000, including $12,500 in potable water savings. (Source: NC Cooperative Extension Service)
Since 2009, the Adopt-A-Stream Program has removed 15 tons of trash from local streams. Along with helping to inspire greater community stewardship, removing the trash also prevents clogging of stormwater drainage systems and thus prevents localized flooding and damage to homes, roads, and other infrastructure.