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Ok Riverwatchers – we need you today, right now. The NC Legislature is primed to override Governor Cooper’s veto of House Bill 467. The bill a shameful all-out polluter protection bill, that panders to the factory farm industry at the expense of hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians. We need to you pick up the phone and call your legislators RIGHT NOW and urge them to NOT override the Governor’s veto. The vote has been hastily scheduled for as early as this afternoon so please call now. Below is a summary of the bill and an example of what you might use when talking to your representative. Feel free to supplement with your personal thoughts but be clear with your ask to NOT override the veto. If you are unsure who your elected official is or if you need their phone number click the following link,, scroll down to “Representation by County,” Use the drop down menu to select your county and your legislators will be listed. Then just call them!


This Bill Protects Polluters Who Are Hurting People

  • Hundreds of property owners from southeastern North Carolina sued Smithfield’s Hog Production Division due to the pollution caused by Smithfield’s hogs in southeastern North Carolina. These lawsuits seek compensation from a corporate pork producer making record profits ($1.7 billion in 2016). Local farmers weren’t sued.
  • Waste emissions and discharges from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOS) can cause harms to health, lost income, and pain and suffering. This bill eliminates compensation even when these impacts are proven in court in a nuisance suit.
  • North Carolina law already protects agricultural operations from frivolous lawsuits. Furthermore, none of the pending lawsuits at issue here have been found to be frivolous or unwarranted; the plaintiffs have survived motions to dismiss.

This Bill is an Attack on Private Property Rights

  • This bill would reduce options for North Carolina homeowners to protect themselves when CAFOs unreasonably interfere with their use of their property.
  • Nuisance laws have existed for hundreds of years. The basic legal principle is that one should not be allowed to unreasonably interfere with the use or enjoyment of another’s property. This bill would change law which predates the United States by saying, regardless of the nature or degree of such interference, the only harm is to the neighbor’s property value (ignoring any damage a neighbor’s health or quality of life).

This Bill Exacerbates the Disparate Racial and Economic Impacts of Industrial Farming

  • Many CAFOs are located in low-income areas or communities of color (hog operations in particular are concentrated in minority communities). These communities disproportionately suffer from the pollution caused by these operations.  By taking away available legal remedies, this bill is especially harmful to these vulnerable populations.
  • This bill incentivizes placement of agricultural operations in communities with low property values where liability exposure, because of limited to property value, is lower.
  • CAFOs depress the fair market value of private properties nearby. That means by the time a neighbor files a nuisance claim, there’s not much property value damage left to attribute to the nuisance, making it impossible for a court to ‘make the injured party whole’ if the only recovery is that related to diminution in property value.

Tell Your Legislators to sustain Governor Cooper’s veto of H467

To present a consistent and persuasive message, we encourage callers to consider using the following script:

Hello, my name is ______ and I live in ______, North Carolina.  I am calling to urge you to vote to sustain Governor Cooper’s veto of H467. You should vote to protect people not polluters.  H467 instead defends polluters and deprives their victims of legal rights.  The bill would change nuisance laws that have been in existence for hundreds of years, and those changes would primarily harm residents in low-income areas and communities of color in North Carolina.  I urge you  to stand up for vulnerable North Carolinians, protect their rights, and vote to sustain the veto of H467.

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Support our Summer Camps for kids!

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Please help us provide a valuable experience for a worthy child by making a donation online now.

This summer will be the seventh year that we have offered our summer camp program to area youngsters and we need your help to be able to provide scholarships to less privileged children.

Cape Fear River Watch’s program provides a unique learning opportunity to students aged 9 – 13. Campers experience the environment through plants and animals in the Lower Cape Fear Basin with hands on activities and field trips which will enable them to become better stewards of the environment.

Your tax-deductible contribution can help us give students with financial need the learning experiences provided by Cape Fear River Watch’s Summer Camp program. CFRW provides full scholarships to half of our summer campers.

A gift of:

  • $150 provides a full scholarship for a camper, including snacks
  • $75 provides a camper’s half tuition and snacks
  • $25 provides healthy snacks for one camper for the full week

Any amount can truly make a difference, and are greatly appreciated. Please help us expand our outreach efforts to include youngsters who would not otherwise be able to afford this program, and make a donation online now. You may also make a contribution by phone by calling 910-762-5606, or mail a check, payable to Cape Fear River Watch, to 617 Surry St. Wilmington, NC 28401 ATTENTION: Summer Camp Fund.

Donations will go to our Larry Schramm Fund. Larry Schramm believed that summer camp is an experience every child deserves.  In an era when children are becoming less connected to nature (and more connected to their media devices) it is more important than ever to provide quality, outdoor environmental education to every child. Your contribution helps ensure that all children who want to get outside and learn about their local watersheds can attend CFRW Eco Camp regardless of their family’s income level. Make a donation online today!

Thanks in advance for your support!

Looking to sign your child up for summer camp? SIGN UP HERE!

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Calling CreekKeeper Volunteers!

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We are looking for volunteers to help out with a cool program that keeps an eye on the tributaries of the Cape Fear in our area!  We are looking for folks that can attend one training session and monitor a creek in our area 6 times per year. This is an easy and fun way to get out in your community and directly impact the water quality in our community. If you are interested please email Kay Lynn Hernandez at and let her know you want to be a CreekKeeper!


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Thank you!

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Dear volunteers, interns, sponsors, donors and attendees,

THANK YOU! We had the biggest and best event we have ever had and that is all thanks to you. We already looking forward to StriperFest 2018!



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Cape Fear Floodwaters After Matthew

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Hurricane Matthew was, without a doubt, one of the worst flooding events in recorded history for southeastern North Carolina, and the Cape Fear River Basin in particular. All three of the major sub-basins, the main stem of the Cape Fear River, The Black River, and the Northeast Cape Fear River, saw all-time high levels of flooding at some gauging sites.

The environmental impacts from this kind of flooding are enormous. The Cape Fear Riverkeeper, along with fellow Riverkeepers on the Waccamaw and Lumber River, the White Oak and New River, The Neuse River, and the Pamlico-Tar River, made several flights in small planes to get an idea of the impacts. What we saw was troubling.

Concentrated animal feeding operations (a.k.a. CAFOs or Factory Farms) were significantly impacted. Barns full of animals (both swine and poultry) were flooded, drowning animals in those barns. The waste within those flooded barns was swept up by floodwaters and carried downstream. Across North Carolina there were numerous hog lagoons that were buried beneath flood waters, their waste washed into communities downstream. Massive piles of poultry waste left in fields were washed into our rivers as well.

Coal ash ponds in the Cape Fear Basin did not see significant impacts, as the rainfall and flooding in New Hanover and Chatham Counties was less severe than areas in between. There were breaches of coal ash ponds in the Neuse River Basin at the Duke Energy Lee Plant, as well as a breach of the cooling pond there. As we have seen time and time again Duke Energy was late to catch the breach (they had to be told about it by the local TV station) and the NC Department of Environmental Quality has been reluctant to disclose the details of the spill.

To get a bird’s eye view of impacts across NC click here. To watch the WECT story click here. To read a Washington Post article about flooding impacts to CAFOs click here. The read about the coal ash spill click here. To read the Waterkeeper Alliance report on CAFOs and see the interactive maps click here.

Floodwaters are falling although many, many people are still out of their homes and or without power in areas of flooding. Clean-up of these impacted communities will continue for some time. The bottom line is that the Cape Fear still is likely to have high levels of bacteria that can make people very sick, Stay out of floodwaters, the river, and the ocean (remember the Cape Fear empties directly into the Atlantic). Stay tuned as more information about water quality will be forthcoming.

Shots from Lock & Dam #1 where our education center and rain garden were inundated:

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If you would like to make a monetary contribution for repairs to the rain garden and education center you can do so here!

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f you have information about pollution being spilled, dumped or discharged into the storm drainage system, which includes storm drains, ditches, swales, creeks, lakes, ponds, streets, or directly into a waterway, please


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