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Southern Waters & Environmental Justice

Almost 50 years after the passage of the Clean Water Act, we often take for granted that our federal, state, and local governments will provide and protect clean and safe drinking water for all Americans. Yet as the Flint, Michigan water crisis and OWASA’s recent water main breaks and shortages remind us, this crucial resource can not be taken for granted.

Challenges to ensuring clean and safe drinking water in North Carolina actually seem to be on the rise. A recent study found that 29.2% of the private wells sampled in Wake County tested positive for bacterial contaminants, leading to increased incidence of gastrointestinal illness and emergency room visits. Moreover, exposure to contaminated drinking water were found to disproportionately affect predominantly black neighborhoods, increasing racial health disparities in North Carolina.

This panel will feature experts on a variety of subjects that affect clean water in North Carolina and throughout the South: coal ash, hog waste, PFAS and other emerging contaminants, and challenges from urban and suburban growth and development. Their conversation will focus on the greatest threats to clean water in our state and region, and they will offer a series of tangible steps that any concerned citizens can take.

Join us for this event on 7pm on Thurs, Oct 24 in Howell, Room 115. Free and open to the public. 

Participants

Jackie MacDonald Gibson is Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences and Engineering in UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. Her lab recently received a $300,000 grant from the NC Collaboratory to conduct testing for well water contamination around the state, as well as developing low-cost testing equipment that make it easier for small communities to monitor their own water quality.

Detlef Knappe is the S. James Ellen Distinguished Professor of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at NC State University. He is a Trustee of the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA’s) Water Science and Research Division, and he serves in editorial roles for the journals Water Science and Drinking Water Engineering and Science. His groundbreaking work on emerging contaminants helped alert scientists and regulators to the emerging threat from PFAS in North Carolina’s drinking water.

Naeema Muhammad is Co-Director of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network. She has worked with communities dealing with waste from industrial hog operations in eastern North Carolina in conjunction with two NIEHS funded grants. She has co-authored articles on community-based participatory research, and she serves on the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)’s advisory board for Environmental Justice & Equity.

Lisa Sorg is an environmental reporter for NC Policy Watch. She covers issues including social justice, pollution, climate change, and energy policy. Before moving to her current position, Lisa served as editor and investigative reporter for INDY Week, covering the environment, housing and city government.

Megan Raisle is a senior undergraduate at UNC pursuing a double major in Environmental Studies and Geography, with a minor in History. She has worked on environmental issues on campus since arriving at UNC, serving as the co-chair for the Environmental Affairs Committee within the Executive Branch of Student Government from Fall 2017-Spring 2019.


Click the icons to learn more about each drinking water contaminant.

PFAS & GenX

Hog Waste

Coal Ash

 Click here to listen to a short, NC Policy Watch podcast featuring Lisa Sorg if you’d like to have a brief overview of all three issues before diving deeper.
-December 24, 2018