What we’re about…

Welcome to the website for the Friends of Bolin Creek!

Join us on 9 am Saturday, October 11, “Learning about our Forest Communities,” that is trees. Rob Crook, Forester, Meeting place: 300 Waterside Drive, Carrboro. Read about all of the walks here.

Bolin Creek provides a home for an amazing diversity of creatures, including the rare four toed salamander, both in its waters and in the riparian buffer surrounding it. This stream also feeds into Jordan Lake, which is a water supply for over half a million people! Unfortunately, this wonderful stream is classified as impaired, meaning that it does not pass the standards set by our state for drinkable, fishable waters. In this site, you can learn about how to join us and make a difference to the creek!

You too can build a rain garden and help our creeks. We’ve trained a number of homeowners to build their own rain gardens. See this short video about the workshop and read more here. Read about the Chapel Hill High School Rain Garden here.

For more information or questions about how to help, contact friendsofbolincreek@gmail.com

Thanks, Friends of Bolin Creek
Artist’s map by Geneva Green, Geneva’s website: Greenstone Quarterly

Posted in Bolin Creek Watershed, Friends of Bolin Creek Community Exchange, Friends of Bolin Creek mission, Friends of Bolin Creek: Can We Heal Our Local Waterways? | Tagged | 1 Comment

FOBC Intern position filled for Fall 2014

Friends of Bolin Creek seeks a part time intern for its Homeowner Raingarden Workshop Coordinator position for fall of 2014. The position of approximately 10/week will run from September through mid November, with the potential for extension into the new year.

Responsibilities include:

  • coordinate fall workshop series
  • interface with homeowners of host garden site
  • recruit participants for workshops
  • prepare workshop materials
  • follow up with homeowners to ensure garden followthrough
  • coordinate plant distributions, including ordering and pickup
  • Pay dependent on experience.
  • Please send resume and letter of interest to Julie McClintock, President of Friends of Bolin Creek at FOBC.rain.gardens@gmail.com.


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CHHS Student Rain Garden Project

         Spreading Understanding of Water Problems and Solutions

This spring, Friends of Bolin Creek teamed up with AP Environmental Science students from Chapel Hill High School to promote rain gardens as a final class project. Skyler, Kat and Bryanna brought many strengths to this project, including artistry, excellent research skills, tenacity and enthusiasm. After researching rain gardens and their functions to capture and clean storm water, improve infiltration to groundwater, provide wildlife habitat and add an aesthetic element to the landscape, the students gained first hand experience by working to maintain their school rain garden.

This garden, a joint project undertaken by the Town of Chapel Hill, CHHS, NC State and Friends of Bolin Creek, was badly in need of some weeding! Skyler, Kat and Bryanna put in 6 hours each of weeding this garden, digging out over 20 bags of invasive species and other weeds. In the midst of this grunt work, the students completed the impressive aesthetic component of their project. Inspired by the potential beauty of rain gardens, the students painted an acrylic landscape piece which they donated to Friends of Bolin Creek.

Rain Garden painting

In their painting, they captured the role of rain gardens to offset the impervious surfaces of the urban landscape, the power of deep roots to provide a cleansing pathway for runoff to rejuvenate groundwater, and the overall beauty rain gardens provide to our landscapes. We will use this lovely painting to create educational materials about rain gardens in support of our Homeowners Raingarden Initiative. We will also be auctioning off the original painting to raise funds for this Initiative. Thank you Skyler, Kat and Bryanna for your amazing efforts in support of Friends of Bolin Creek and our environment!





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Letter to the Town Council re Coal Ash dump in Chapel Hill

Coal Ash Letter

Dear Mayor Kleinschmidt and Town Council members:

Friends of Bolin Creek are writing to urge you to clean up the large coal ash dump in the center of Chapel Hill. It would be a grave mistake to follow the lead of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources – whose reputation on coal ash regulation is now discredited on a national level – by allowing the coal ash to remain in an unlined pit in the center of town.

Last year, the Town of Chapel Hill informed the public that a coal ash landfill was found to be located on the site of the Police Building. For more than a decade in the 1960s and ’70s, this property was used as a burial pit for coal ash. The coal ash in this totally unregulated and unlined landfill contains known hazardous substances, including heavy metals that have leached out into the environment and will continue to do so. The Town Web page containing relevant reports is found here: http://www.townofchapelhill.org/index.aspx?page=2311

The Town initiated a study after the discovery and informed DENR later in 2013. The initial studies performed by Falcon Consulting were to establish if the coal ash had contaminated ground water and Bolin Creek. Unfortunately, it has.

Both this July 2013 consultant’s report and a subsequent March 2014 “Site Characterization Report” demonstrate that the coal ash has significantly affected ground water. Sampling has revealed extremely high concentrations of coal ash pollutants, far above state and federal standards. These coal ash pollutants in our groundwater include cancer-causing pollutants and toxic metals such as arsenic (found at 14 times the groundwater standard in the most recent report), lead (over 16 times the standard), and chromium at a shocking 93 times the standard.

Worse, these dangerously high levels of toxic contamination were all measured from the groundwater monitoring well located immediately adjacent to Bolin Creek.

Not surprisingly, the initial consultant report concluded that “groundwater appears to be impacting Bolin Creek.” Groundwater tends to flow down-gradient to adjacent water bodies such as Bolin Creek. The July 2013 report states that “surface water sampled from Bolin Creek exhibited results indicative of environmental contamination above established action levels.” These results are troubling, but surface water tests cannot reveal the true extent of the contamination of the Creek, since the metals and other coal ash pollutants tend to settle into the creek sediments, where they will continue to pollute the food chain and ecosystem of Bolin Creek.

Tests for contamination of the sediments at the creek bottom have not been performed, but need to be performed promptly in order to understand the extent and severity of the coal ash contamination.

As explained in Town Manager Roger Stancil’s April 24, 2014 memo, so far the Town has only performed a number of “supplemental measures,” rather than cleaning up the coal ash. These include fencing off the hillside to keep the public out, installing silt fencing to try to prevent coal ash from washing into Bolin Creek, performing surface water testing, and performing soil probes to identify how far the coal ash extends on the property.

However, we understand from Town staff that DENR has indicated that the Chapel Hill coal ash site is too large to remediate – though there is no basis for such a claim – and we further understand that DENR has suggested the Town add use restrictions to the property’s deed rather than cleaning up the coal ash or treating the polluted groundwater. This understanding appears to be confirmed by Mr. Stancil’s memo, which states that “[w]e will follow the direction of NC DENR” in determining what to do with the coal ash, and lists as possible next steps only “additional testing,” unspecified “supplemental mitigation measures,” or “the placement of future use restrictions on the property.”

It appears from everything we have learned thus far that the town and DENR are preparing to leave a large source of toxic metals and other pollutants, untreated and largely unconfined, in the center of town. No cleanup appears to be planned. The consultant has already indicated that contaminated groundwater flows to the creek, so whatever sediment fencing is put in place on the surface of the land cannot stop the ongoing pollution of Bolin Creek and its sediments.

Leaving the coal ash in its unlined pit, where it will continue to pollute groundwater and Bolin Creek, would be a grave mistake of the kind that has garnered DENR so much negative national attention in its handling of coal ash throughout North Carolina. The Town of Chapel Hill should avoid affiliating itself with DENR’s current refusal to protect public waters from toxic coal ash pollution.

Moreover, for the Town to allow this serious threat to our natural resources to remain in place forever would violate a number of laws. This type of unpermitted pollution of the creek via hydrologically connected groundwater violates the Clean Water Act. Moreover, the state groundwater regulations require that where the North Carolina groundwater standards have been exceeded, as they already have been here many times over, the polluter must stop the discharges to groundwater and take corrective action to clean up the pollution. Yet that is not what the Town appears to be planning in this case.

Accordingly, we request that the Town Council take the following steps to address this serious situation:

  1. Test the sediments of Bolin Creek for all coal ash constituents upstream, at, and downstream from the site to determine the extent of the contamination in the creek;
  2. Comply with the Clean Water Act’s prohibition of unpermitted surface and groundwater discharges of pollutants to Bolin Creek; and
  3. Comply with the requirements of North Carolina’s groundwater regulations, including 15A N.C.A.C. 2L .0106’s requirements that the source of unpermitted groundwater pollution be eliminated and the polluted groundwater be remediated.

Especially in light of the recent revelations in the New York Times, the Associated Press, NPR, CNN, and other national media exposing DENR’s mishandling of coal ash issues in North Carolina, we urge the town of Chapel Hill not to rely on DENR’s questionable guidance in addressing this serious problem. DENR’s activities in regard to coal ash regulation are the topic of a federal criminal grand jury investigation.

Our Town should preserve its reputation for environmental leadership and set a higher standard for our State by cleaning up the coal ash that is polluting Chapel Hill’s public waters. We look forward to working with you to ensure these vital resources are protected.


Friends of Bolin Creek
Julie McClintock, President

Friends of Bolin Creek Board of Directors: Dave Cook, Tom Cors, Dick Ludington, Julie McClintock, Dickson Phillips, and Nick Torrey

Friends of Bolin Creek Committee: Ethan Beattie, Salli Benedict, Rob Crook, Linda Carol Davis, Linda Haac, Betsy Kempter, Stefan Klakovich, Marty Mandell, John Morris, Michael Paul, Mary Sonis, and Will Raymond









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Expert testimony on Booker Creek Watershed and Ephesus Fordham

Friends of Bolin Creek sought expert help to evaluate the Booker Creek Watershed where the Ephesus Fordham redevelopment proposal is located.  Ken Carper, Stantec, Inc issued this report on April 28, 2014.

Dear Mayor and Council Members of the Town of Chapel Hill:

I am sending to you again this report, on behalf of Friends of Bolin Creek. See 2 attachments. The location of the Ephesus-Fordham proposal in the Booker Creek watershed requires special attention to minimize risks for flood damages to businesses and homes. Contained in my report, are specific recommendations to mitigate this serious threat.

Ephesus – Fordham Stormwater Report

Little Creek Watershed

I am a registered Professional Engineer in North Carolina and a Certified Floodplain Manager with over 35 years of experience working for engineering firms and local governments, including many projects involving assessing flood threats to communities and devising ways to guide development to reduce these threats. I will speak to the main points at the meeting on April 21, 2014.

I appreciate this opportunity and thank you for considering this information in your deliberations.



Kenneth A. Carper, PE, CFM
Water Resources Team Lead, Stantec Consulting Services Inc

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Yoga in the Woods

On Sunday, May 4, 2 pm come to Yoga in the Woods with Salli Benedict.  Join yoga instructor Salli Benedict for an inspirational and fun walk to four of her favorite places along Bolin Creek in Bolin Forest. We will practice easy yoga poses inspired by nature.  No yoga experience needed, all poses will be done standing.

Meeting place is 302 Waterside Drive just below pond. Click on link to see location.

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Chapel Hill releases stormwater master plan for comment

Chapel Hill has released a draft of the Stormwater Management Program Master Plan. The plan has been under development for a number of years and offers goals and a strategy for attaining them.  It does not come with the additional funding needed to implement the plan.

Town staff is inviting input at these times:

  • Wednesday, April 16 – 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a brief presentation at 11:45 a.m.
  • Thursday, May 1 – 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., with a brief presentation at 4:45 p.m. that will be repeated at 5:45 p.m.

The meetings will be held in Meeting Room B at the Chapel Hill Library, 100 Library Drive.
 The draft Stormwater Master Plan is posted in three sections on the Town’s website here. There are several links because of the large size of the files:  Phase I, Phase II, and Phase II Appendices.
Town staff contact:        Sue Burke, Stormwater Engineer
                    919-969-7266 or sburke@townofchapelhill.org

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Join us for a Spring Wildflower Walk

Join us for a Spring Wildflower Walk in Bolin Forest

Sunday 2 pm,  April 6th  Meet in the parking lot at Wilson Park, Carrboro

Dave Otto will lead us for a Spring wildflower walk in Bolin Forest.  He writes:  “I walked down to the lower bridge and back today and saw seven wildflowers: Trout Lily, Hepatica, Spring Beauty, Bluet, Toothwort, Bloodroot and Woodrush.”

Wildflower list and Bolin Creek T shirts available.

See you there!  Feel free to forward this invitation.


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Rain Garden Homeowners’ Initiative…Build your own rain garden!

We’ve completed the first workshop series of our new Rain Garden Initiative where participants found out how build a home rain garden with help from Friends of Bolin Creek (FOBC)! This series focused on Bolin Forest in Carrboro.  Not only was this workshop a great learning experience, the project built community too as neighbors got to know each other.  We were thrilled that so many signed up to help others to build their rain gardens.  While this series has ended (Feb 22 and Mar 8), we will announce the fall series this summer.

FOBC is a local, grass roots, non-profit organization working to conserve, protect and advocate for Bolin Creek. In this initiative, we are teaming up with local homeowners to build rain gardens. Our goal is to spark the creation of an abundance of rain gardens in Chapel Hill and Carrboro to decrease stormwater runoff, improve water quality, protect land, and beautify our towns.

This program is designed to give homeowners the tools they need to implement rain gardens at home by carrying out a series of hands-on rain workshops in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. In the workshops, homeowners learn how to build a rain garden and implement measures to protect our local streams. By participating in the workshop, a homeowner can also earn assistance toward building their own a rain garden in their own yard! The initiative begins in the Bolin Forest neighborhood and will eventually expand to include other areas in Carrboro and Chapel Hill. Ultimately, we envision hundreds of rain gardens across Carrboro and Chapel Hill, reducing the serious runoff and erosion problems that homeowners face.

RG pic


The health of all the streams in Chapel Hill and Carrboro are impaired. Urban surfaces, such as roofs, roads, driveways, lawns and packed soils, prevent water from infiltrating into the ground. Instead, the water flows too quickly into our streams and storm sewers. In streams, the influx of sediment and chemicals as well as the force of the increased surge of water during storms leads to severe water quality problems, impacting local wildlife and our drinking water supply. We are also seeing the negative impacts of erosion and standing water on our lawns. Rain gardens can help reduce storm water problems by slowing storm flow, increasing infiltration, and reducing pollutant flows into streams.



We will build a rain garden! These saucer-shaped depressions temporarily capture rainwater and allow it to slowly sink into the ground. The workshop series will give you the knowledge and skills to construct your own rain garden using native plants that are both flood and drought tolerant, require no fertilizer, benefit water quality and wildlife, and become an attractive feature in your yard. Following the workshop, participants will have the option of receiving additional supplies and assistance from FOBC while supplies last. They also will have the opportunity to form a work group in their neighborhood to assist each other to implement rain gardens.

If you have any questions or would like to become a co-sponsoring organization for this initiative, please email FOBC.rain.gardens@gmail.com for more details.




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Jordan Lake Rules Under Attack

Last session, North Carolina Legislators held up the implementation of the Jordan Lake rules that were intended to raise standards for existing development.  Town and Cities across this large watershed extending from Greensboro to Jordan Lake, an important water supply,  had already begun to prepare for taking the required measures to reduce pollutants entering Jordan Lake for new development.

These rules took years to develop striking a compromise with local governments, industry and environmentalists.  Legislators have formed a study committee to reexamine the rules for existing development and delayed the implementation deadline pending the outcome of the study. One questionable approach is to try to treat all pollution at its source through an in-the-lake pumping technique.  Here is the story on our Friends of Bolin Creek facebook page.  In a December letter to the New and Observer and the Chapel Hill News, Stefan Klakovich responds here in this excellent letter to the Editor.

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Jordan Lake rules face legislative challenge

The News and Observer reports about the Triangle’s upstream fight for the Jordan Lake rules in this Nov 19 story.

— The inter-regional political fight over Jordan Lake is churning again, and upstream legislators who want to delay or loosen environmental rules in favor of “technological solutions” may hold the advantage in the next phase.

Elected officials from Greensboro and Burlington are the largest voting bloc Continue reading

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