Three streams in western Union County show signs of severe pollution, and regulators who are investigating don't know yet how it happened.
One stream runs across Idlewild Road just west of Indian Trail-Fairview Road. The second runs across Stevens Mill Road at the edge of the Fairhaven neighborhood. The third crosses Poplin Road near Seefin Court at the edge of Monroe's city limits.
The water in all three is opaque, a milky brown. They contrast dramatically with nearby streams where water is clear.
After examining photos by The Charlotte Observer, an official in the Mooresville office of the N.C. Division of Water Quality said the water appears to contain sediment, which frequently comes from construction sites.
Marcia Allocco said Friday that the agency had identified a construction company that may be linked to the pollution. However, she did not identify the company and said investigation would continue this week.
Penalties for sediment pollution could go as high as $25,000 per day, Allocco said. For first-time offenders, the fine usually is closer to $10,000 per day.
Allocco said the stream that crosses Stevens Mill Road appeared to be most severely polluted.
She was able to identify two of the suspect streams from a map in her office. She said the flows on Stevens Mill and Idlewild Road are “perennial streams.” They run year-round.
The Idlewild Road stream flows into North Fork Crooked Creek, then into Rocky River and the Yadkin River. Much of Union County is in the Yadkin River Basin.
The streams on Stevens Mill and Poplin roads are tributaries to the Idlewild Road stream, she said.
The Yadkin River is a source of drinking water for much of Anson County. Union County also buys water from Anson.