A public-interest law firm wants the Environmental Protection Agency to stop construction of a reservoir on the First Broad River in Cleveland County.
In an unprecedented decision, the Observer reported Wednesday, state regulators waived a water-quality certificate for the controversial project last month.
The move came two years after legislators ordered regulators to collaborate with communities in building reservoirs, which normally face tough environmental standards.
The Southern Environmental Law Center, citing undue political pressures on the reservoir project, urged the EPA to block it.
The Division of Water Qualitys unprecedented waiver of its authority and responsibility to ensure that this project complies with water quality standards emerged from excessive and inappropriate legislative involvement, the law center wrote Stan Meiburg, EPAs acting regional administrator, on Wednesday.
EPA had no immediate comment.
Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, serves as the water districts attorney and was a sponsor of the 2011 reservoir bill. So was former Rep. Mitch Gillespie, a McDowell County Republican who is now the states assistant environment secretary.
Cleveland County Water manager Clyde Butch Smith was appointed to the state Environmental Management Commission by House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg.
State approval is needed before federal authorities can decide whether to allow the reservoir.
EPA has authority under the Clean Water Act to designate sites as unsuitable for fill material, such as dam construction on the First Broad River.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA have both urged the water district to look at other options.
Henderson: 7041-358-5051 Twitter: @bhender
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