What impacts will Chatham Park have on our waters?
A city size development of 55,000 people adjacent to the Haw River and Jordan Lake will have many serious consequences. Water pollution from Chatham Park was not anticipated when the Jordan Lake rules to reduce nutrient pollution were passed into law in 2009. What will be the source of drinking water, where will be the impact of wastewater and stormwater, and how will streams be protected? The developer’s Master Plan application does not give us the answers we need for these very important questions.
Source of Drinking Water?
Where will the water come from to supply 55,000 people. We do not believe the current Pittsboro intake on the Haw River could safely supply this amount, especially in drought. Pittsboro may try to get an allocation from Jordan Lake, but they will be in competition with Triangle cities. Will they plan to drill wells?
Disposal of Wastewater?
Again, there is not sufficient information in the Chatham Park Master Plan to be able to know what they intend to do with the 4.5 million gallons a day of wastewater. There offer some conceptual ideas for recycling of water and using multiple small systems on site, but without specifics. Do they plan to use the discharge permit site (not built) on the Haw River at Highway 64? Whatever their final plan is, this wastewater will add to the current pollution in Jordan Lake, with increased algae blooms and fish kills.
Polluted Stormwater Runoff?
Replacing a largely forested area this close to Jordan Lake with a city size development will result in sediment pollution from land disturbed during construction and pollution from stormwater runoff. The Master Plan calls for use of Pittsboro’s “high density option” for the entire project. This is defined as 70% impervious surface. That means they could build 70% of the development in rooftops, roads parking lots and other hard surfaces. The waters in this area, including Jordan Lake, the Haw River, and Robeson Creek are already in trouble- and are on the EPA “Impaired Waters List” What will be the impact of this new pollution?
Below is a chart that compares the impervious surfaces as requested in the proposed master plan by Chatham Park LLC to some very large cities across the United States. Note their proposal requests for higher levels of imperviousness than even the largest city in the US.
(Many thanks to Bob McConnaughey for this information. Data taken from Tree and impervious cover change in U.S. Cities, Nowak, Greenfield, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, 5 Moon Library, SUNY-ESF, Nyracuse, NY. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 11 (2012) 21-30)
Protection of Streams and Steep Slopes?
The Master Plan map for stream buffers and slopes greatly underestimates the stream mileage and steep slopes on the land. Using the current methodology from NCSU, similar to Chatham County ordinances, we estimate that over half of the Chatham Park property should be left in natural forest in order to protect streams and slopes.
To see a more detailed slide show of the Chatham Park water issues, by the Haw Riverkeeper, go to: http://hawriver.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Water-Issues-Chatham-Park.pdf