Richland Creek Watershed Restoration Project

Richland Creek Watershed Restoration Project Phase I Final Report

USEPA Success Story

What is the Richland Creek Project?
The Richland Creek Watershed Restoration Project is working to identify sources of pollution and construct best management practices (BMPs) that help landowners protect their land from erosion and improve stream conditions. The Haywood Soil & Water Conservation District, the Southwestern North Carolina Resource Conservation & Development Council, and the Haywood Waterways Association are leading this effort along with multiple other partners. They have a history of helping landowners conserve their land and can help provide financial and technical assistance to participating landowners. The project is operating on a volunteer-only basis, and none of the responsible organizations are regulatory by nature.
The project partners believe it's safe to say everyone wants clean water, whether it is for drinking, fishing, playing or for our pets and livestock. The partnership wants to help protect and improve the quality of our streams in Haywood County. We want to do it in a way that doesn't interfere with a landowner's rights or livelihood. We recognize the importance of a growing economy and clean water. We believe we can have both. However, if we don't make simple changes in the way we use the land, water quality will only get worse as more people move to the area. Let's work together to clean up Richland Creek and its tributaries. Our children, our grandchildren and our neighbors will thank us!
Why Richland Creek?
Richland Creek and one of its tributaries, Raccoon Creek, are on the NC Division of Water Quality 303(d) list of impaired waterways. The 303(d) list identifies all streams in the county that do not meet state water quality standards. There are different standards depending on how the water source is categorized (e.g., water supply watershed for drinking water, trout streams, livestock, drinking water, recreation, aquatic life, and industrial intakes). If a stream does not meet the state standards, then it is placed on the list.
The Richland Creek Watershed Restoration Group has received special grant funding to help improve the water quality of Richland Creek with the goal of removing the stream from the impaired list. The Haywood Soil & Water Conservation District and Southwestern Resource Conservation & Development Council have a successful history of helping landowners protect their land by using conservation practices. Haywood Waterways Association has been helping the Soil & Water Conservation District and RC&D Council acquire grants to help fund stream improvement projects.
Sources of funding include the NC 319 Program, NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Pigeon River Fund of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, and Tennessee Valley Authority.

Our goals for the Richland Creek Restoration Project are to:

Why is Richland Creek on the 303(d) list?
The answer to that question is both simple and complex. The simple reason is that the bugs and fish living in the stream are tolerant of pollution, according to studies done by the NC Division of Water Quality. But what does that mean? That's the complex answer. No one knows why only tolerant species are living in the stream but there are many potential possibilities, such as sediment coming from roads and eroding stream banks, bacteria, lack of vegetation along streams, pH issues, and nutrients. To get Richland Creek and Raccoon Creek off this list, we need to look at all the potential problems. We need the support of as many landowners as possible to construct projects that will remove as many potential sources of pollution as possible. Sediment is the number one pollutant in Haywood County. There are many sources of sediment and what may be surprising is just how much is contributed from roads and the creation of new roads.
What are the effects of erosion and sedimentation?
Stream bank erosion can cause a loss of your land. If you are a farmer, this could reduce agricultural productivity. When sediment enters the stream it can degrade aquatic habitats. Once in the stream, sediment can fill in the open spaces between the gravel, home too many aquatic insect species. When the aquatic insects disappear so will the food source for fish and other animals. If treatment facilities have to work harder to remove items we don't want in our drinking water, we end up with increased water treatment costs and higher water bills. When suspended sediment reaches a lake or pond the sediment drops out of the water column and starts to accumulate. If left untreated, sediment could fill in the lake or pond over time. A clean stream increases property value, both monetarily and aesthetically!
What do I do if I'm interested?
Any landowner in the watershed can participate, this includes churches, homeowners, businesses, and homeowners associations. Contact the Haywood Soil & Water Conservation District who will visit your site, come up with site-specific improvements, and give you cost estimates. At this point, you are under no obligation to continue. If you do wish to construct the improvements, you will be asked to sign a maintenance agreement; that would be your only obligation other than your share of the work. A maintenance agreement basically requires a landowner to agree to maintain any best management practice for 10 years. One of the great features of this grant is that conservation easements are not required!
What kind of BMPs could be constructed on my property?

The following are example BMPs:

Who are the organizations?
The Haywood Waterways Association is a local non-profit group that began in 1998. We've partnered with the Soil & Water Conservation District and RC&D Council on many grants that have brought in over $5.9 million dollars to the county to help landowners implement projects that protect their land, watershed, and water quality. None of these projects have ever resulted in enforcement action. Eric Romaniszyn is the Executive Director. Haywood Waterways is responsible for project oversight, education & outreach, and data collection. Haywood Soil & Water Conservation District is a county agency that's been helping landowners for over 55 years. They help landowners find grant money and complete projects that protect their land and the waterways of Haywood County. They help any landowner to conserve their land and improve stream condition. Southwestern NC Resource Conservation & Development Council is a regional non-profit agency that has helped landowners in western North Carolina for 40 years. They work closely with the Soil & Water Conservation District and Haywood Waterways. They are the fiduciary agent for this project and will coordinate reports to the funding agencies.
How do you get more information?

Haywood Soil & Water Conservation District
Leslie Smathers, Department Director
589 Raccoon Rd, Suite 203
Waynesville NC 28786
828-452-2741 ext: 3

Haywood Waterways Association
Eric Romaniszyn, Executive Director
PO Box 389
Waynesville NC 28786

Web Design © 2014 gfgraphics - Waynesville NC