LAKE WYLIE -- Even during the quietest times, Lake Wylie Covekeepers have plenty to keep busy.
The all-volunteer unit of environmental watchdogs last week discussed concerns that could turn into major problems with as little as one or two inches of rain during the monthly meeting at Lake Wylie Public Library. So far, the groups says, 2009 is not presenting too many problems with sediment runoff into the lake.
"Basically it's pretty quiet," said Bill Hildebrand, reporting for Covekeeper efforts in York County. "My main concern is Big Allison (Creek) ran red in January with about two inches of rain. It's never run that red before, at least in the five years I've been here."
Lake Wylie Lakekeeper Ellen Goff sees York County as the biggest concern, especially with the development of more than 2,000 acres along S.C. 274 between Big Allison and Crowders Creek. Much of that planned development, a multi-use project already approved by the county, is located on or near the water.
During its buildout in the next 20 years, the planned development will have a "profound effect" on the area and county efforts to protect water, Goff said.
Other York County projects under watch include Mill Creek Commons, Shoppes at the Landing and the S.C. 274 widening project.
In Mecklenburg County, Catawba Riverkeeper David Merryman said sediment control measures could lead to litigation.
"We're still looking at potentially suing them," Merryman said of a Steele Creek development.
"We've had a fair run-in with the city of Charlotte," he said. "If you see rebuilding in coves and rebuilding of a sediment basin, that's why."
The main Gaston County concern is increased development near Lower Armstrong Bridge in Belmont, said Gaston County Covekeeper C.D. Collins. If a hard rain were to hit now, Collins said last week, large amounts of "raw dirt" and sediment would enter the water posing harm to aquatic habitat, filling in coves along the South Fork.
Collins said the group also continues to investigate ,rather regularly, spills in the South Fork. He said a small amount of unidentified matter can be found in the lake in the same spots on a regular basis. So far the group has not been able to test the material.
"This has been ongoing for years," he said.
With chemical and sewage plants and a steam station to the north of the discharges, Collins said he has not been able to pinpoint the source.
The Lake Wylie Covekeepers meet at 7 p.m. the second Wednesday of the month. Meetings are usually held at Red Fez Club in Steele Creek on Lake Wylie. The public is encouraged to attend. For questions, e-mail Lakekeeper Ellen Goff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include "Covekeeper" in the subject line.
Muddy Water Watch expands
CHARLOTTE--The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation announces training for its new Muddy Water Watch series in Fort Mill begins May 5 and a Pineville, N.C., training series begins June 4.
Both classes will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for four sessions, including visits to construction sites. The Fort Mill class will be the first to focus on laws in South Carolina, while the Pineville session will focus on both North and South Carolina. Exact locations for the sites have not been announced.
Muddy Water Watch began earlier this year as a North Carolina statewide initiative to reduce stormwater runoff from construction sites by training volunteers to monitor and report problems. Trainings in Charlotte and Belmont saw larger than expected crowds.
Other planned sessions include one in Hickory beginning Saturday and northern Mecklenburg County beginning April 9. For more information about the program or to sign up e-mail email@example.com.