State officials may soon allow new water connections to be run in the Goose Creek watershed in Mint Hill.
Mint Hill Town Manager Brian Welch recently said that action will spur development in that part of town and provide relief for residents who have been unable to tap Charlotte Mecklenburg Utility water for more than a decade.
“It’s not just an economic development tool. We have people living on Thompson Road with a water line in front of their house that couldn’t tap onto it,” Welch said.
That part of Mint Hill, bounded roughly by N.C. 218, N.C. 51 and Lawyers Road, has been under a moratorium for new water connections since 2002. That’s when Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities applied for a permit to pipe additional water from the Catawba River into the Yadkin River basin, which includes eastern Mecklenburg County. The state gave CMU permission, but only if no new water was run to the Goose Creek watershed, home to the endangered Carolina Heelsplitter, a small freshwater mussel.
Though no heelsplitter colonies are known in Mint Hill, the headwaters of Goose Creek are there. Since water pollution is one of the main dangers to the heelsplitter, state and environmental officials put a stop to new water connections in the area in hopes of limiting development and preventing runoff into the creeks and streams that lead to Goose Creek. Officials said the moratorium would remain until a plan was put in place to protect the heelsplitter.
For the past 11 years, CMU and Mint Hill have been working with state agencies to find a compromise.
A Goose Creek Management Plan has been in place for that area for several years. The plan includes 100-foot buffers along intermittent streams and 200-foot buffers along perennial streams.
The North Carolina Environmental Management Commission has called for a public hearing 7 p.m. March 4 at Mint Hill Town Hall to hear comments on the Charlotte Mecklenburg Utility department’s Environmental Assessment, the document that describes what steps have been taken to protect Goose Creek. Welch says he encourages anyone with an interest in the Goose Creek Basin to come to the meeting and ask the state to remove the restrictions.
Comments from the public hearing will be reviewed by the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission at its May meeting. That group can vote to lift the moratorium.
Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Melinda? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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