EPA: Cape Fear River not a swamp

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Cape Fear River (Photo: WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Cape Fear River in southeastern North Carolina is not a swamp after all.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has denied a request by the state of North Carolina to reclassify the Lower Cape Fear River as swamp waters.

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According to a letter to the NC Department of Environmental Quality released by DEQ today, the EPA disapproved the reclassification saying the state’s documentation does not meet the state’s definition of swamp waters.

The push to change the classification of the river started a few years ago during the McCrory administration in Raleigh. Local leaders recently pushed back against the idea.

Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover County) congratulated opponents to the move.



“To all those who called, wrote, spoke up, showed up and generally made a ruckus over the reclassification of the Cape Fear River to a swamp, please be advised that the Department of Environmental Quality went to bat for clean water and accordingly, EPA has DENIED the redesignation,” Butler wrote in a Facebook post this afternoon.

The reclassification had been made for the Cape Fear River from Toomers Creek about 15 miles south to Snows Cut. It had to do with lower pH and dissolved oxygen levels in the water compared to past measurements.

State regulators appear ready to put this behind them.

“Due to environmental concerns such as the presence of endangered species in the salt waters of the LCFR and ongoing PFAS regulatory issues, DEQ intends to advise the (North Carolina Environmental Management Commission) at the next regular session that the EPA’s disapproval letter should be the final action on this issue,” a DEQ news release said.