Wrightsville Beach told Coastal Fed projects successful, but have little overall impact

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Despite successful findings in its water quality study, it’s unlikely that Wrightsville Beach will receive any additional grant funding for projects to reduce stormwater runoff, a local environmental advocacy group told the town’s board of aldermen.

And while studies show the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s project had a big impact on stormwater runoff into local waterways, the overall effect was too small to register a change in water quality.  Tracy Skrabal, coastal scientist and southeast regional manager for the Coastal Federation, told the board that the measurements by runoff pipes showed reductions of bacterial concentrations of 90 percent or more by the runoff points. But water quality measurements at the pier line still reflect the area’s water quality problem, she said.

“We’ve only treated three pipes, the water is so mixed and the problem is significant,” Skrabal said.

The federation was awarded more than $1 million in grants to implement stormwater runoff reduction projects around Wrightsville Beach, Skrabal said, including one that will start soon by the Hanover Seaside Club. However, it’s unlikely the federation would be awarded any additional grants for the projects, she said.

“I urge you to continue funding what we’ve done, because we need to amplify up what we’ve done to see a real change in water quality on Banks Channel in those area,” Skrabal said.

Skrabal’s presentation to the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen came as the federation announced it had completed work on a project at Blockade Runner Beach Resort.

According to the federation, the project disconnected pipes that drained runoff from the resort property into Banks Channel, and redirected the water into the resort’s lawn. The water can now infiltrate the sandy soils. In addition, a 2,100-gallon cistern will collect rainwater for irrigation use, reducing the Blockade Runner’s municipal water use by 25 percent.

The project was funded from North Carolina’s Environmental Enhancement Grant program.

“We couldn’t be happier with this retrofit project,” said Feletia Lee, environmental coordinator for the resort. “Since its completion, we have seen a dramatic decrease in the amount of stormwater draining into Banks Channel, and it is exciting to know that the system is not only operational but successful.”

Email terrylane@luminanews.com

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