Sen. Edwards included two important funding provisions for water quality testing and pollution clean-up efforts in Western North Carolina's rivers and streams
RALEIGH, N.C. – Senator Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson) is pleased to announce the adoption of House Bill 1087 Water/Wastewater Public Enterprise Reform (SL 2020-79), which includes funding for conservation and water quality initiatives in Western North Carolina. The funding was originally included in the 2019-2020 state budget that was vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper.
During the legislative short session, the General Assembly continued its 2020-2021 budgeting process through smaller, targeted appropriations bills addressing specific issues, funding obligations, programs, and allocating federal CARES Act funds received by the state. House Bill 1087 was one of those targeted funding bills for local water infrastructure systems and projects.
As co-chair of the Appropriations on Agriculture, Natural, and Economic Resources Committee, Senator Edwards ensured the final conference report included two provisions initially contained in the state budget passed by the General Assembly. The bill appropriates $200,000 to assist the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to respond to pollution spills, and $100,000 to MountainTrue's water quality testing on the French Broad, as well as other WNC rivers and streams.
"We continue to invest in our families, our economy, our environment, and our natural and cultural resources," said Senator Edwards. "As a first-year Appropriations Chairman, I was fortunate to have been in a position to continue supporting our environment through these important appropriations. Protecting our clean water is not only the right thing to do but vital to the economy of our mountains."
House Bill 1087 also appropriates $9 million from the One NC Fund to the newly established Viable Utility Reserve. The funds will be used to provide grants to distressed water infrastructure systems, assessments, inventories, or projects.
Sen. Edwards credits the dedicated partnership, patience, and advocacy effort of MountainTrue, and is appreciative of their time and determination for bringing forth their legislative priorities. Their willingness to work with WNC legislators to find solutions for resources and keep us updated on the work they are doing to preserve our beautiful natural resources.
"As a member of MountainTrue and as a member of the N.C. Senate, I'm thankful for the organization's watchful eye, quest for solutions, and trusted advice to help us preserve Western North Carolina's natural resources and beauty," said Senator Edwards.
In January 2015, three Western North Carolina environmental and conservation nonprofits joined forces to become MountainTrue. MountainTrue envisions Western North Carolina as thriving communities that are connected to and help sustain a healthy natural environment. To achieve this, MountainTrue encourages advocates throughout the region to be engaged in policy, outreach, and educational programs. Additionally, MountainTrue's staff focuses on a core set of issues across 23 counties of Western North Carolina: sensible land use, restoring public forests, protecting water quality, and promoting clean energy.