Haywood Waterways lauds water quality heroes

The Haywood Waterways Association announced its water quality heroes for the year at its annual banquet in December.

Here’s who won the three awards given out by the premier water quality group in Haywood County.

Eric Romaniszyn received the Pigeon River Award, an award given to an individual or organization who has made significant contributions to protecting the land and water resources in Haywood County. Romaniszyn, the project manager for Haywood Waterways, has tackled numerous water quality projects during his tenure. He has spearhead the restoration of Hyatt Creek, aided the town of Waynesville with storm water management, written several educational publications and organized the annual Kids in the Creek program.

“Eric has taken Haywood Waterways to a new level with his expertise as an aquatic entomologist, his great rapport with the public and his exceptional organizational and teaching skills,” said HWA director Ron Moser. “We are very fortunate to have Eric on board.”

The Town of Waynesville was recognized as Partner of the Year. The town has worked diligently to address fecal coliform contamination in Shelton Branch, a tributary of Richland Creek. The town spent significant time and money finding and repairing sewer leaks. Over a mile of sewer lines were replaced and fecal contamination has been dramatically reduced.

The town has also worked on public education of water quality, such as storm drain markers to let folks know storm drains lead directly to our streams. Another major project has been the restoration of stream banks along Richland Creek, a rare case of designated trout waters running through the middle of a town.

“Even in these difficult economic times, the town has shown it is committed to protecting our mountain streams for the citizens of the town and Haywood County, and our visitors,” Moser said.

The Waynesville Rotary Club was recognized as Volunteer of the Year. The club provided significant and much needed financial support for Kids in the Creek. This program gives every eight grader in Haywood County a fieldtrip to the river where they don waders, wield nets and conduct water quality experiments. Over the past 11 years, nearly 8,000 students have gone through Kids in the Creek.

The Waynesville Rotary Club also played a key role is developing, funding and providing volunteer labor for a rain garden at the new Haywood Community College Child Development Center.

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