State clean water group meeting here

By Tom Joyce - [email protected]

Officials of a state water-protection group that has granted more than $23 million for projects in Surry County — and is being counted on for more — are gathering today in Mount Airy.

The board of trustees of the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF) will hold its regularly scheduled June meeting early this afternoon at Hampton Inn; after a business session, the board will tour some of the projects it has funded in this area.

That will include Fisher River Park at Dobson and, after returning to Mount Airy, walking on a section of the Ararat River Greenway. On Friday morning, the board of trustees is to visit the summit of Pilot Mountain State Park on its way to another engagement in Winston-Salem.

The Clean Water Management Trust Fund was established in 1996 by the N.C. General Assembly, which makes a direct appropriation to supply grants to local governments, state agencies and conservation non-profits to help finance projects specifically addressing water-pollution problems. The nine-member CWMTF Board of Trustees has responsibility over the allocation of that money.

Local impact evident

The Ararat River Greenway is an appropriate stopover for the group today, since seven of the restoration project grants it has approved so far for Surry County were for the Ararat River restoration.

Those grants, totaling $5.2 million of $14.3 million awarded altogether for that purpose, covered six phases of Ararat River restoration, while other funding has targeted Lovills Creek along the Emily B. Taylor Greenway.

Such work hits close to home for the newly appointed executive director of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Walter Clark.

“Mount Airy is my hometown and I remember the terrible condition of the Ararat,” Clark said in a statement regarding the badly eroded waterway, which in the past decade has become a key trout-fishing destination and part of the city’s greenway network.

Clark added that he has “personally witnessed how, with CWMTF assistance and funding from other sources, the river has become an asset that benefits the environment, recreation and economy.”

While that restoration already has occurred, the Clean Water Management Trust Fund is continuing to play a role with the Ararat River through plans to extend the greenway northerly from Riverside Park and provide additional streambank stabilization along the way.

That upcoming project already has been awarded a $400,000 grant from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, according to Charles Anderson of The Resource Institute. It is a non-profit organization in Winston-Salem contracted to help Mount Airy secure outside funding for greenway-related work.

“And we’re hoping for another grant,” Anderson added Wednesday of extra assistance that could be received in the next funding cycle of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund.

He said the nine CWMTF trustees, who come from areas around the state, sometimes like to hold their regular meetings at places where projects have been funded.

At the same time, their visit to Surry offers the opportunity to show off some of the work accomplished and how this community has made good use of the state funding, according to Mount Airy Mayor David Rowe.

“Mount Airy is pleased to host a meeting of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund Board of Trustees, where the reclamation work in the Ararat River and Lovills Creek clearly, and I do mean clearly, demonstrates the value of (its) investments in stream restoration in Surry County,” Rowe said in a statement.

“We welcome this opportunity, not only to show you the value of (those) investments, but also to demonstrate the great hospitality and friendly people who make our city a great place to live.”

To date the Clean Water Management Trust Fund board has funded 56 projects in Surry, including:

· Seventeen acquisition and easement mini-grants for a total of $5,568,006.

· Three wastewater/stormwater infrastructure projects for a total of $2,681,000.

· Eleven planning and “mini-grant” plans totaling $1,138,000.

· Twenty-five restoration projects for a total of $14,365,859.

By Tom Joyce

[email protected]

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

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