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Wednesday, 31 December 2014 16:15

Haywood Waterways does good work

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out waterwaysEditor’s note: The following is a submission from Haywood Waterways Association reflecting on the organization’s work to protect and improve water quality in Haywood County.

Since 1998, Haywood Waterways Association has instructed thousands of children, written more than a hundred successful grant applications and partnered on projects that directly improve water quality. But what do the Kids in the Creek program or stabilizing stream banks actually mean for water quality in Haywood County?

“They mean a lot,” said Eric Romaniszyn, the organization’s executive director.  

A survey about Kids in the Creek, the organization’s most popular education program, found that 81 percent of students said it helped them better understand what they learned in class. The survey also found that, for those students with limited or no environmentally responsible behaviors, 67 percent changed their minds about taking care of or valuing natural resources, while 68 percent said they were more likely to take action to preserve or protect the environment.

Haywood Waterways’ restoration projects have also reduced sediment and pollutants in Haywood County’s waters. The restoration projects have resulted in reductions in nitrogen (344 pounds per year), phosphorus (32 pounds per year) and soil loss (2,360,000 pounds per year).

Since 2006, 81 failing septic systems have been repaired. These have stopped almost 30,000 gallons of untreated wastewater from flushing into streams each day and resulted in a 100 percent reduction in bacteria, pathogens, nutrients, household chemicals and pharmaceuticals at each repair.

Haywood Waterways also works to combat stormwater, the number one cause of water quality issues. Rain barrels sold by HWA capture about 110,000 gallons of stormwater each year and will capture 3.3 million gallons over their 30-year life span. By keeping stormwater onsite, the barrels filter atmospheric nutrients, decrease water temperatures and help reduce high stream flows that erode stream banks.

To combat the trash issue, Haywood Waterways started the Adopt-A-Stream program. Since 2009, adopting organizations have removed 16 tons of trash from local waterways. 

The ultimate result of their work is improved water quality. 

“A great example is Hyatt Creek, which was considered one of the worst streams in Western North Carolina,” Romaniszyn said. “Through partnerships, community outreach and installing watershed best management practices, water quality improved and the stream was removed from the state list of impaired waterways.” 

HWA relies on three key partners for much of its work: Southwestern Resource Conservation & Development Council, Haywood Soil & Water Conservation District and Haywood County School System. However, many other supporters are involved, and all hands on deck are needed to further improve and protect the waterways of Haywood County. 

“By completing these projects, by spreading the word about water quality, by getting people outside to enjoy Haywood County’s natural resources, we hope to inspire the community to take responsibility for our water,” Romaniszyn said. “After all, we are a headwaters county, meaning all our water starts here and we are the only ones who can take care of it.” or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Recognizing heroes

Haywood Waterways Association honored four heroes for their work to protect and improve Haywood County’s rivers, streams and reservoirs at the organization’s membership dinner Dec. 4.

• Bill Eaker earned the Pigeon River Award for his long history of contribution to HWA. One of its founding members, he served on the board of directors for 17 years, including two years as president, and currently chairs the fundraising committee. He initiated the group’s annual Polar Plunge, volunteers with the Water Information Network Program and was one of the original volunteers on the water chemistry monitoring program, launched in 1996. 

• Alric “Ric” Clay received the Lake Junaluska Award for Volunteer of the Year, having served on the board of directors from 2010 to 2014, including service as vice president. A strong advocate for clean water and education, Clay helped HWA develop and improve its programs through his experience working for international organizations, both nonprofit and for-profit. 

• The Town of Clyde and Lake Junaluska Assembly both received the Big Creek Award for Partner of the Year. Clyde actively promotes actions to reduce stormwater impacts and protect floodplains, including the new addition of River’s Edge Park. The town also supports the Adopt-A-Stream clean-up program, Kids in the Creek youth education program and Polar Plunge Benefit.

The Lake Junaluska Assembly has stabilized shorelines and streambanks, restored wetlands, created a Stormwater Management Plan, removed thousands of tons of sediment and trash that would otherwise move downstream into the Pigeon River and invested heavily in building improvements that increase energy and water efficiency. They also host Haywood Waterway’s Polar Plunge Benefit for Kids in the Creek & Youth Education.

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