Locals express concern over creek withdrawal

Interstate 73 contractor tight-lipped on details

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

Rockingham area resident pining for higher water levels in Hitchcock Creek were exasperated over the weekend when they saw construction company trucks withdrawing water.

After all, the water is low enough and the Hitchcock Creek Blue Trail is almost just as appropriate for four-wheeling than paddling.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com W.C. English construction workers finish pumping water out of Hitchcock Creek before a rain storm on Monday afternoon in Rockingham.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
W.C. English construction workers finish pumping water out of Hitchcock Creek before a rain storm on Monday afternoon in Rockingham.

Members of the Creek Runners Club, a passionate band of kayakers and canoeists that turn area waterways into paths of recreation trails, pitched their concerns on a closed Facebook group before calling officials at Rockingham City Hall and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The creek is considered suitable to ideal for paddling when the water is above the yellow tape mark on a steel pole at the Roberdel access point off Nicholson Road. On Monday afternoon, the photo shows the water several inches below the yellow tape mark.

Monty Crump, Rockingham city manager, said any navigable body of water in the state is regulated by state officials, “just like the Pee Dee River. It falls under state jurisdiction completely and totally.”

Crump said he was to call the DENR’s Division of Water Resources and pass along residents’ concerns but “I don’t know what they can do.”

W.C. English, based in Lynchburg, Va., is the primary contractor on the Interstate 73/74 upgrade along U.S. Route 220 from Ellerbe to Rockingham. The $49.8 million project involves the construction of service roads from Rockingham to Ellerbe and is part of a larger, $2 billion interstate upgrade project.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Hitchcock Creek is considered suitable to ideal for paddling when the water is above the yellow tape mark on a steel pole at the Roberdel access point off Nicholson Road. On Monday afternoon, the photo shows the water several inches below the yellow tape mark.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Hitchcock Creek is considered suitable to ideal for paddling when the water is above the yellow tape mark on a steel pole at the Roberdel access point off Nicholson Road. On Monday afternoon, the photo shows the water several inches below the yellow tape mark.

Reached by phone shortly after 2:30 p.m. Monday, project superintendent Eddie Jones declined to offer any details. He listened as residents’ concerns were described to him, but as he was being asked a question about compliance with state law, Jones interrupted.

It was “not a good time,” Jones said. “Call me back later.”

Jones was asked when a better time to call back would be, but he did not respond before terminating the phone call.

A two-man crew with two W.C. English trucks were at the Steele Street access point Monday afternoon. One of the workers said a project supervisor ordered the pair to haul water from the creek; the man speculated permission had been obtained.

Sarah Young, a public information officer with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said project officials have a right to access a body of water on or adjacent to land being worked on. Young said she’d seek more information about this particular water withdrawal. She had not responded by 4 p.m. Monday.

She said her agency doesn’t have any regulations prohibiting companies from withdrawing from such a waterway. The company would be required to register with her agency if it was taking out 100,000 gallons or more at a time.

One Creek Runners Club member and avid kayaker said that with the location of the water withdrawal — at Steele Street — the amount of water taken, it would likely have a negligible impact.

“Taking water out at Steele Street would only be an issue for Stage 1 if it was being removed faster than it was being replenished,” the paddler suggested. “Just like we would see no effect on creek levels from rain dumped in south of the creek, taking water out at Steele will have no measurable effect on Stage 1, which is arguably the most used section.”

The paddler compared Hitchcock Creek, which does not have water flow data available, to Drowning Creek, which does. Drowning Creek flows at 411 gallons per second, he said, or 25,000 gallons per minute.

“Unless these tanker trucks can pull a full load of water in less than three minutes, or they had several trucks pulling water at the same time, the realistic affect on water flow south of Steele Street would be minimal,” the member suggested. “And realistically, would only hypothetically (e)ffect the flow at that particular time, since any water being drawn of is being replaced with 25,000 gallons of new water every minute. If they were drawing a bunch of water off Roberdel (Pond), then I could see a reason to maybe be concerned, but not from what’s being drawn off at Steele Street.”

 

 

 

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Outdoors, Rockingham

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  • Bob Browder

    Does the company have permission from the land owner to drive on this property?

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