Fund supports watershed projects with cut of profits

 Duke’s profits off the hydroelectric power dam on the Pigeon River in Haywood County have funded another round of environmental water quality projects in Haywood, Buncombe and Madison counties.

The annual fund was created in 1996 thanks to the Clean Water Act, which requires power companies to provide environmental compensation in exchange for harnessing the river with dams. Ten projects totaling $258,552 were recently awarded by the Pigeon River Fund of The Community Foundation, including:

• Haywood Waterways Association: $56,000 to continue coordinated community efforts to address water quality issues, implement the Haywood Watershed Action Plan and increase public appreciation of water resources through educational programs and publications. 

• Haywood Waterways Association: $30,800 toward the costs of repairing failing septic systems in the Richland Creek area of Haywood County for low-income homeowners.

• Southwestern NC Resource Conservation and Development Council: $14,120 toward the Envirothon and Youth Environmental Stewardship Camp programs that engage middle and high school youth in hands-on learning about water quality issues.   

• Southwestern NC Resource Conservation and Development Council: $30,000 for a stormwater assessment of the Maggie Valley commercial area and creation of a plan to minimize runoff pollution into Jonathan Creek.

• Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy: $20,000 to conduct a natural heritage inventory and update the water quality assessment of the Plott Balsam Mountains, which in turn could help win funding for land conservation. 

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