Who's responsible for the Falls Lake mess? | News Feature | Indy Week
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New rules to clean up the waterway went into effect Jan. 15, but local municipalities—primarily Raleigh and Durham—argued over who is responsible for the pollution and who should pay for the $1.5 billion cleanup.

Who's responsible for the Falls Lake mess? 

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Falls Lake: Point and counterpoint

Point: Durham didn't ask for the lake to be created, why should it have to clean it up?
Counterpoint: Even if the lake weren't there, their streams would still be failing state and federal standards, and somewhere downstream that pollution would be causing problems.

Point: The science is not reliable; the lake may be improving.
Counterpoint: Burkholder and the state agree the lake is not getting better. Durham still needs to address pollution in its streams.

Point: It is going to be too expensive.
Counterpoint: Maybe. It is too soon to say what Stage 2 will cost. Though there will be an increase in water and sewer fees, many of the projects will be partially funded through state and federal grants. And the cost if the EPA stepped in could be much higher.

Point: The lake can't be fixed and it's a waste of money to try.
Counterpoint: If we do nothing, the EPA could force the state to take action. Reclassification of the lake is difficult and not politically feasible. If the EPA gets involved, it could make the cleanup standards even more stringent.

Point: Most of the changes should happen in Wake County, since it is home to Raleigh's drinking water intake.
Counterpoint: The objective is to achieve water quality standards throughout the lake.

Point: Durham continues to argue that the lake should be reclassified to set more realistic cleanup goals. Durham Deputy City Manager Ted Voorhees said "What we've been pushing all along, is that [DWQ's] choices within the Clean Water Act are not the choices we would have made."
Counterpoint: "Fishable, swimmable is the lowest standard," said Grady McCallie of the N.C. Conservation Network, "apart from really giving up on a water[way] and saying it is an industrial sewer, pretty much."

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