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Environmentalists opposing Falls accord, says city lawyer

Raleigh, Durham, Granville and Person counties have agreed on a common position on what they want in the state's regulations for clearing Falls Lake of excess nitrogen and phosphorus, but Durham assistant city attorney Karen Sindelar said Thursday there's conflict still to come.

"We've already been made aware the environmental community is very opposed to what's in here," she told the Durham City Council during its discussion of the governments' "consensus principles," which the council went on to approve unanimously.

The state's Division of Water Quality is drafting regulations for public comment later this spring. The state Environmental Management Commission must approve a final draft by Jan. 15, 2011. The rules take effect immediately on an interim basis, but remain subject to further revision by the state's Rules Review Commission and General Assembly.

"This is a really long-term process," Sindelar said, "and I would not be surprised if this goes on for another two years."

The City Council had already approved spending up to $120,000 for the Raleigh law firm Kilpatrick Stockton LLP to lobby on Durham's behalf in the rulemaking process.

Jordan goeth before Falls ...

Recent findings by the state water-quality division indicate Falls
is more polluted than rule-makers expected, particularly the Durham
County arm west of Interstate 85.

More than 50 percent of water samples from three western sites
exceeded pollution levels allowed by federal clean-water standards; the
rate at an Ellerbe Creek site was 84 percent.

"The western side of the lake is in poor condition," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said Tuesday.

Council takes "nuanced" stand on Jordan rules

Durham's City Council members really aren't against the environment. They want to see Jordan Lake's water quality improved and protected. It's just some proposed rules they have problems with.

"We have to be careful," said councilman Eugene Brown, that the council's position doesn't come across to the public as "anti-environmental."

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