Citizens Collaborating for Pristine Creeks

Starting in 2014, the Environmental Affairs Committee (EAC) partnered with Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment to address real questions about Granville County streams. Graduate students in the Masters of Environmental Management (MEM) program are working on client-centered group projects that provide learning opportunities for them as well as a well-formulated analysis for their client. There are three projects ongoing this year. The first centers on the Antioch community, and students are assessing the health of the streams as well as the knowlege and needs of members of this community. The second project is analyzing the handling of wastewater effluent in the county, looking for potential costs and uses for reclaimed water. The third project is centered on the feasibility of banking mitigation and prioritizing tracks of land for the Tar River Land Conservancy.

A Partnership with Duke University

2014-2015 Duke University Academic Year

Wastewater Management Through Effective Water Reclamation and Discharge Allocation

By: Xiangjun Li &Cameron Okie

In addition to the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) upgrade in 2006, the City of Oxford is exploring the option of reclaiming treated wastewater for irrigation and other uses. This is a common practice in in other states and allowed under North Carolina law.   In 2010, the City of Oxford contracted McGill Associates to formulate a ‘Reclaimed Water System Study’ to assess infrastructure designs and costs of a reclaimed system for the purpose of irrigating a Granville County park.  The City hopes that reclaiming a portion of the wastewater will be both a source of income and a method to alleviate environmental stress on Fishing Creek.  

The purpose of this project is to investigate an optimal wastewater discharge management plan.  Part of the discharge management strategy will include allocations for reclaimed water.  The amount of water allocated to be reclaimed will depend on the effect the wastewater discharge has on Fishing Creek’s environmental health and, if applicable, minimum in-stream flows.  Harvey Spurr with The Environmental Affairs Committee established the Reclaimed Wastewater Project for the Masters in Environmental Managment students who established the following objectives:

  1. Analyze several reclaimed water scenarios by estimating the environmental impacts on the Fishing Creek ecosystem under these scenarios using a Bayesian Network Model
  2. Evaluate the economic costs and benefits of several reclaimed water scenarios using an incremental cash flow analysis. 

Antioch Community Project

By: Miranda Chien-Hale, Emma Mendelsohn, & Ran Ding

The mission of the Granville County Government is to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of the County by providing an array of services in a responsive, effective, and efficient manner. If we are to provide meaningful services, we must focus on: health and public safety, human and social services, environmental management, education, recreation and cultural opportunities, and economic development.  And, one critical focus is on environmental management.   A recent survey of streams in the Antioch Community by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NC DENR) showed that various stretches of surface waters were compromised. In partnership with Clean Water for North Carolina, the NC DENR and Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment, the Antioch Community Project was established for the Masters in Environmental Management students with the following objectives: 

  1. Assemble a thorough mapping of the streams that bring water to Coon Creek including their relationship to roads, communities and specific districts for County Commissioners
  2. Perform site analyses on streams to better characterize their biological carrying capacities, flow parameters and to determine where improvements are needed
  3. Engage the Antioch Community to better understand what they feel is needed to improve the quality of the watershed for recreation, social enhancement and community pride
  4. Formulate a recommendation plan for  improvement, that with adequate support, could serve to bring meaningful change in this community and beyond and that will engage youth in environmental education and protection of the stream in their backyards

Assessing the Potential of Creating a Stream Mitigation Bank on the Tar River

By: Cha Yang & Nuoer Yang

The Tar River Land Conservancy (TRLC) is a private land trust in North Carolina focused on “preserv[ing] the natural and cultural resources of the Tar River basin and surrounding areas (Tar 2014). As a result of discussion from private consulting firms and other organizations approaching TRLC concerning a partnership to secure mitigation credits through conservation easements, TRLC is interested in the feasibility of creating a sustainable business plan in stream mitigation banking with a focus on conservation easements[MC1] , while also affirming the mission of the land trust.

This project partnered Duke University Masters of Environmental Management students with TRLC to assist in determining the potential of creating a mitigation bank. The objective of the project can be broken down into three scopes:

  1. Identify and rank sites suitable for a mitigation bank within the Tar River basin
  2. Conduct a national literature research on land trusts across the U.S. that have engaged in mitigation banking enterprises to determine liabilities and pitfalls and develop recommendations to overcome the challenges.
  3. Assess the feasibility of creating a business plan and identify elemental factors to establishing a sustainable business plan that also contributes to the mission of TRLC.

Please visit the Granville County Projects website for additional information about these projects.

​All of the project descriptions were taken from the reports written by the students. These reports will be submitted to their clients and to Duke University. These reports may be obtained through these establishments.

Future Projects

Client-Centered Group Master’s Projects  at the Nicholas School of the Environment (NSOE) involve2 3-5 graduate students from one or more program areas and are supervised by NSOE faculty.  The projects address a problem outlined by the client, and students work on the project for a total of 1 year. During this time, students gain a more detailed understanding of how to solve real-world problems while providing the client with a useful report.  

The NSOE website provides a more detailed understanding of expectations and schedule for Group Masters Projects for those interesting in becoming a client. They have provided a detailed Client-Centered Group Masters Project Client Handbook as well as a simple online application process.