This week, Xpress looks at the network of agencies and organizations working in Buncombe and Madison counties to improve water quality and position the French Broad as the region’s next great tourist attraction.
Last week’s heavy rainfall pushed E. coli levels in Asheville’s portion of the French Broad River past the Environmental Protection Agency’s safety threshold, posing a health threat to swimmers and tubers.
On April 14, representatives from 43 nonprofits requested funding from Buncombe County, as part of the county’s community development grant program. But these organizations make up only 9.6 percent of the total nonprofits in the county. Others rely on privately funded grants and donations, as well as individual donations — both small and large. Each organization must constantly work to grab and hold the public’s attention. And in a city like Asheville, it seems there’s never a shortage of worthy causes.
The Environmental Quality Institute launches an interactive map of water quality readings in Western North Carolina and seeks volunteers for its bi-yearly biological analysis of local streams and rivers.
The Environmental Quality Institute’s Stream Monitoring Information Exchange program is currently seeking volunteers to attend a volunteer training on Saturday, March 29th, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at UNC Asheville. Once trained, volunteers work in small groups to sample a couple sites, two times per year (about 10 hours of annual service). Volunteer opportunities are open to anyone (11th grade and up) with any level of experience or identification skills.
In an e-mail to Xpress, the director of the Environmental Quality Institute challenges numbers supplied by UNC-Asheville, and says the university profits from the center.