UPDATE – Cashiers Lake Dredging and Development Project – Comments Due by Monday, Oct. 7, 5PM
Submit Comments to PublicComments@ncdenr.gov with “Cashiers Canoe Club” in the subject line.
We recommend that the Division of Water Resources deny the “Cashiers Canoe Club” 401 permit, until the cumulative impacts of the entire project are determined, and the corresponding effects on the Chattooga River’s Outstanding Resource Waters are also determined.
Outstanding Resource Waters Status of the Chattooga River
- The state of North Carolina has the duty to ensure that the strictest anti-degradation components of its water quality standards are being satisfied for unique Outstanding Resource Water bodies like the Chattooga River. Citizens have the right to demand that the most stringent anti-degradation protections be enforced to protect the Chattooga’s water quality.
- Currently, the NC Division of Water Resources (DWR) acknowledges that the upper Chattooga River “is at risk from … storm water runoff from increasing residential development.” (2008 Savannah River Basin Management Plan). The DWR has also noted that “sandy conditions and infrequent riffles may be attributed to development activities around Cashiers Lake.” (2012 Savannah River Basin Management Plan). A high density development at Cashiers Lake would clearly add to these problems, and result in further degradation of the Chattooga’s Outstanding Resource Waters.
- The Cashiers Lake development project seeking the state’s 401 permit would permanently impact over 7 acres of wetlands and nearly 5 acres of open water in the Chattooga headwaters. However, this improperly segments and ignores the cumulative impacts of a much larger plan—which is to build a high-density development of 60+ residences, plus allowances for additional “future development.”
- This development would bring chronic erosion and sedimentation runoff during its construction; household and commercial detritus washing into a wild and scenic river corridor; 18+ acres of impervious surfaces; oil and other chemical runoff from parking lots; a two-fold increase in human waste that will ultimately be discharged into the Chattooga; loss of wetlands that serve to reduce downstream pollution and flashiness; decrease in dissolved oxygen that will negatively impact aquatic life–all of which will add to the other negative impacts that the DWR has already gathered on the Chattooga headwaters.
- These cumulative negative impacts, and the inevitable degradation and impairment of Outstanding Resource Waters, and by association the “outstandingly remarkable values” of the National Wild & Scenic Chattooga River—the longest and most pristine National Wild & Scenic River in the Southeastern U. S–are impermissible for Outstanding Resource Waters.
Stormwater Impacts & Sedimentation into the Chattooga River
- The applicable Jackson County ordinance requires that high-density developments in Outstanding Resource Watersheds detain and control a 25-year, 24-hour storm event. According to information available from NOAA, this would amount to between 9 and 11 inches of rain in Cashiers. The applicant’s 401 permit application for dredging, etc., does not make room for the structures that would be necessary for adequately managing the stormwater generated by this amount of rainfall.
- The applicant does not have a stormwater management plan for the high density residential development. The applicant references an old and incomplete stormwater plan, and the state’s permit for that plan expired in May 2019. Non-point source stormwater is one of the greatest threats to water quality, and considering a 401 permit application without having a relevant and valid stormwater management permit in place is negligent and unacceptable.
- The developers want to dump the dredging spoils next to the Chattooga, up to 30 feet from water’s edge. Harmful contaminants from the old Cashiers Plastics Corporation are thought to be in the Cashiers Lake’s wetlands and lake bed, and thus would be in the dredging spoils. (Chemicals from the plastics plant reportedly leaked or otherwise wound up in the soil around the plastics plant, which subsequently was deposited as erosion and sediment in the Cashiers Lake and wetlands.)
Sewage, Cashiers Waste Water Treatment Plant, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit Compliance
- The application lacks information on plans for treating the human waste that will come from the proposed high density subdivision. The applicant acknowledges plans to tie into the sewage collection system that goes to the Cashiers Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP), which currently is operating at about 50% of its permitted use. Tuckaseigee Water & Sewer Authority intends to boost the Cashiers WWTP to 100% of its permitted operations, to service the development at Cashiers Lake. This would effectively double the WWTP’s current sewage load, which discharges into the Chattooga’s Outstanding Resource Waters. This a major issue, because National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit violations have already occurred at the Cashiers plant in the past. Doubling the sewage load into the waste water treatment plant, so that it operates at 100% capacity, will most certainly result in negative impacts to the Chattooga’s Outstanding Resource Waters. The water quality of a National Wild & Scenic River is supposed to be maintained or improved.
- Increasing the operations of the Cashiers WWTP to 100% of the plant’s capacity fails to explain how this would not lead to an “expansion” of a discharge into an Outstanding Resource Water, which is prohibited under state law.
UPDATE – Public Hearing Set For 9/5/2019:
The Cashiers Lake dredging & development proposal is back, and a public hearing with the NC Department of Environmental Quality Division of Water Resources (DWR) has been set for Friday, Sept. 5th (details below).
The proposal, submitted by Cashiers Canoe Club, has been changed somewhat since last year, but still includes:
– Dredging (destroying) ~ 6.2 acres of wetlands around the lake & filling ~1 acre of wetlands;
– “Disturbing” (dredging?) ~3.5 acres of Cashiers Lake, filling ~1.5 acres of the lake;
– Development of 60+ homes; and
– Doubling the sewage load on the Cashiers Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) that discharges into the Chattooga’s headwaters, such that the WWTP will operate at 100% capacity.
The Sept. 5th meeting will be held at Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library at 249 Frank Allen Road. While meeting begins at 6:00 PM, if you want to speak, registration begins at 5:30 PM.
Event announcement: https://deq.nc.gov/…/notice-public-hearing-cashiers-canoe-c….
Following the meeting, the public may submit comments to DWR until October 7th (more on that soon).
Please attend the meeting to make your voice heard about this issue! Please contact us with any questions.
A decision has not yet been made regarding the Cashiers Lake Dredging and Development proposal. We are pushing for a public meeting to allow members of the community to learn about the project proposal and have the opportunity to discuss concerns. We are continuing to monitor this project and will update as soon as we receive any new information.
The deadline to submit comments regarding the Cashiers Lake Dredging and Development proposal passed on Friday, June 8th. Comments submitted on behalf of the Chattooga Conservancy and Mountain True can be viewed here: CC- Cashiers Lake Comments
Thanks to all who took time to comment and help spread the word!
Chattooga Conservancy ACTION ALERT
Please take some time to submit comments regarding the Cashiers Lake Dredging and Development proposal.
A Texas developer has applied for a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge Cashiers Lake, which feeds the headwaters of the Chattooga River, as part of a plan to build a 100-unit resort hotel and a 55-home residential community there. The proposal includes dredging of 17.37 acres of lake bottom and 6.54 acres of wetland. Ground disturbing activity for the development will also impact numerous unnamed feeder streams and aquatic life. The project plan does not provide adequate information regarding storm water protection safeguards in case of excessive rainfall common to the headwaters. The proposed sewer line for this high density development would go to the Cashiers wastewater treatment plant on the Chattooga River that is already capped and maxed at 200,000 gallons a day to protect the river, which is classified as Outstanding Resource Waters.
Please email David Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org and request a “public hearing.” Request must include a brief statement of reasons based on the information above. Citizens have the right to learn more about this potential threat to the longest and most pristine National Wild and Scenic River in the Southeastern U.S.
The DEADLINE for submitting comments is by 5PM EST Friday, June 8th, 2018
Send comments by email to: David.W.Brown@usace.army.mil
PLEASE SEND YOUR COMMENTS IN OPPOSITION TO THE PROPOSED CASHIERS LAKE DREDGING AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECT AND REQUEST A PUBLIC HEARING!