RALEIGH – The Little River was fourth on the N.C. American Rivers organization's 25th annual America's Most Endangered Rivers report.
“It is endanger because Raleigh and Wake County are proposing a huge dam and water reservoir, which would devastate what is currently one of the last beautiful and pristine rivers in eastern North Carolina,” Lynnette Batt, of N.C. American Rivers, said.
Environmental organizations have been pleading to keep the 90-mile river the way it is.
“It is home to an abundance of fish and wildlife and provides drinking water and irrigation and recreation to surrounding communities,” Batt said.
Raleigh and Wake County leaders have worked for over a decade to ensure that water needs are met in the future.
“I don't see anything wrong with planning for that; that's a good thing, we're going to have growth,” Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen said.
“There's no silver bullet as how we're going to provide water as our community continues to develop and continues to grow, but we have to look at a combination of options,” Alissa Bierma, of the Upper Neuse Rriverkeeper Foundation, said.
Bierma said those options could include a water efficiency program instead of the dam. Environmental advocates fear damming the Little River, which runs through Wake, Johnston and Wayne counties, could threaten water supplies for surrounding towns.
“You have the towns downstream from the location of the dam all the way to the Neuse River in Goldsboro who could now be without the resources of the Little River as a whole,” Larry Baldwin, of the Lower Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, said.
The land has been acquired for the project, and now environmental studies are now being conducted.
The Little River is the only North Carolina river to make this year's list. Environmental advocates said they hope North Carolinians speak out against the project.
The damming is a long project, and city leaders don't expect the facility to be online until somewhere between 2020 and 2030. Citizens will get to participate in public comment later in the fall.
In the meantime, a river clean-up is set up for June 12th for the Little River.