Environmentally Speaking

Pull out those snapshots – there are only a few days left to enter the North Carolina Reef Guide Photo Contest! The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Artificial Reef Program is looking for photos that show the abundant fisheries resources available on North Carolina’s artificial reefs and the different ways people use the reefs. The grand prize winner will receive a $125 cash prize and the photo will be featured on the front cover of the 2016 Marine Fisheries Reef Guide.

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March madness isn’t just about basketball; it also can describe the pollen season. Pollen levels in North Carolina generally reach their highest levels in early to mid-spring when many native trees are flowering, so many pollen sufferers are approaching their most maddening season. People who are bothered by allergies may want to limit their time outdoors until pollen levels subside, particularly during early morning hours and when it is windy outside. Keeping doors and windows shut with air conditioners running will help reduce pollen levels indoors.

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We have good news to report about a site the state environmental agency has successfully cleaned up in Durham. Staff in Governor McCrory’s environmental agency are letting residents in the West Club Boulevard area know that the former One-Hour Martinizing dry-cleaning business – once contaminated by dry cleaning solvents – has been cleaned up. The cleanup was so successful that the state will now be able to consider the 1103 West Club Boulevard site for safe redevelopment.   

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The head of the state environmental agency honored the agency’s most environmentally conscientious employees Wednesday. Secretary Donald R. van der Vaart recognized 17 state employees and groups with DEQ’s 2015 Sustainability Awards. The awards are presented to state employees who have successfully launched projects at work that save taxpayers money and minimize environmental impacts. In many cases, these projects allow the state to perform daily tasks using far less paper and electricity. A ceremony was held Wednesday afternoon in DEQ’s Green Square headquarters in Raleigh.  

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The Connect NC bond proposed by Governor McCrory and approved by North Carolina voters on Tuesday is a victory for small and medium-sized towns whose water and sewer systems are in critical need of repair and maintenance. The bond dedicates $309 million to improving the infrastructure that brings clean, reliable, and affordable water to North Carolina communities.

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Coastal North Carolina relies on tourism to support local economies and provide jobs. Many visitors to the coast come because of beautiful views, pristine water quality, local seafood, and opportunities to be on the water and view wildlife. In an effort to preserve the cultural heritage and natural resources on the Crystal Coast while maintaining N.C.’s robust tourism industry, local businesses participated in the Promoting Sustainable Tourism workshop in Beaufort this month. The workshop, hosted by DEQ's N.C.

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Rose Pruitt, an environmental specialist in the N.C. Division of Waste Management, was honored March 7 by Donald van der Vaart, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, for exemplary customer service. Pruitt, who has inspected underground storage tanks in five central North Carolina counties for about six years, received high marks from the owner of a tank she worked with in Alamance County.

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The state environmental department has issued violations against Duke Energy for allowing wastewater to leak from coal ash basins. Today’s action is another step taken by the McCrory administration to force Duke to comply with environmental rules and clean up the decades-old coal ash problem. The department may also fine Duke for violating its wastewater permits. Wastewater is treated coal ash water that leaks from ponds and reaches nearby bodies of water.

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