Danielle Adams | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week

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Danielle Adams

Candidate for Durham County Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor


Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Danielle Adams

Date of Birth: March 6, 1984

Campaign Web Site: N/A

Occupation & Employer: Full Time Student at North Carolina Central University

1. Why are you seeking the office of Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor?

It is always an honor to be selected to serve. This is a position that allows you to work with some of the most dedicated and hardworking members of our community to preserve, conserve, and protect the natural beauty and resources we all enjoy. My mother, Stella J. Adams, held the position of District Supervisor from 1988 until 2000. During my mother's tenure on the board the board received recognition for Piedmont Farm Family of the Year, two Area IV Farm Families of the Year, District of the Year, Outstanding Education Program of the Year, Employee of the Year, and several awards for Outstanding Media Coverage. As busy as she was with balancing the district and her position with Durham Human Relations, she always seemed to find time to spend with my brother and I by taking us along with her whenever possible. During her twelve years in office I was fortunate enough to go on many farm tours, attend many meetings, and assist her with creek and stream restoration projects. After spending 12 of my 24 years on this earth surrounded by the men and women of the board and completely immersed in soil and water conservation, their passions developed into my passions and impacted not only the way I thought, but also the way I lived. During this critical stage in my life I took up focusing my academic track on biotechnology and agri-science. For over 16 years, my life has been impacted by soil and water conservation and the use of green and natural products in everyday living. This is a position in which I can take my passion for a greener, healthier way of living and a cleaner and safer environment, and put it to use by securing funding for the district. I hope that in this capacity to focus on educating the residents and the business owners on sustainability, restoration, preservation, and conservation.

2. What are the most pressing natural resources issues in the county?

The scarcity of water, the rapid development of our land, and soil erosion are some of the most pressing issues. Although we currently enjoy adequate rainfall and our lakes are full, this time last year we were in extreme to exceptional drought conditions. We cannot create rain but we can be responsible with the resources we have. The fact that we were so ill-prepared and caught off guard by the drought shows that there is a lot of room for improvement in educating our community on the importance of water conservation.

Another impact is the rapid development happening across our district. We have the construction of a new Lowes going up on Fayetteville Rd., a Wal-Mart, Lowes, and Office Depot going up on Miami Blvd near the Wake County, and Durham County lines, another Wal-Mart being built down on the other end of West Club Blvd, and countless new subdivisions and luxury townhome complexes. Unfortunately, some of this construction is decimating our wetlands, causing increased localized flooding, and more polluted stormwater runoff and erosion.

3. How do you plan to address these issues? Please be specific.

As Soil and Water District Supervisor I will work hard to improve and expand current District Programs to improve and protect water quality, educate the public on the importance of soil and water conservation and the installation of Best Management Practices by farmers, developers and industry in order to preserve our natural resources for future generations.

One of my top priorities as Soil and Water District Supervisor will be to bring attention to the dangers of overdevelopment and the destruction of our wetlands.One acre of wetlands can store 1 -- 1.5 million gallons of floodwaters. The destruction of wetlands by development can result in an increase in localized flooding in our neighborhoods.

As Soil and Water District Supervisor I will focus our programs on the reduction of harmful pesticides, sediments, nutrients, pathogens and other pollutants in our waterways. Improving the quality of small streams and wetlands will help filter these pollutants and protect water quality. I will encourage the District to expand its urban environmental education programs and stream restoration projects.

Environmental education is also critically important for water conservation. We need to make sure that all of our public schools, government buildings and agencies are using low flow faucet fixtures and have developed year-round water conservation plans and goals. We cannot expect our residents to change habits if our government does not set the example.

Along with our government facilities, we must encourage local business, hotels and restaurants, to switch to low flow fixtures and do their part to conserve water year round.

4. Identify examples of how the district can best balance agricultural/rural and urban interests in regards to soil and water conservation.

Durham is a dynamically diverse district with rural and urban pockets. The Durham District was the first in the state to develop an active urban stream program. The District is uniquely qualified to balance these needs because of its tri-partite responsibilities. The District is responsible for implementing federal, state and local conservation programs. The District receives funds from the USDA for the implementation of Best Management Practices by farmers. The District can also apply for funds from the EPA to carry out Urban BMP's and educational programs. The District is responsible for the State Ag- Cost Share program, and locally plays a role in the review of sedimentation and erosion control plans, farmland preservation and environmental educational activities. These programs show what is available to the District to reach out to both the rural/agricultural and urban centers. As Supervisor, I will look for ways to insure that the District is actively improving the lives of all Durham residents.

5. How should economic incentives be used to protect the area's natural resources? What are the financial resources for these incentives?

We could provide incentives to developers who incorporate voluntary water conservation measures and green technology into their subdivisions and developments. We could encourage the County and the City to provide tax credits to developers who install BMP's that significantly reduce nutrient loads, run-off and localized flooding or pooling risks to their neighbors.

6. Land use policy impacts the quality and quantity of our natural resources. How should the conservation district work with planning and zoning departments to protect the area's soil and water from urban runoff?

Soil erosion poses a significant threat to our water quality. I have become deeply concerned as I see new developments that are out of compliance with our local sedimentation and erosion control ordinances. As a Supervisor I will insist on greater oversight of these activities by the District because by enforcing the ordinance and ensuring compliance, we can cut down on developmental runoff.

7. What are the pros and cons of voluntary and mandatory conservation programs? Which do you think is more effective and why?

Members of the community respond better and are less resistant when allowed to voluntarily participate in environmental programs. However, there must be a balance between voluntary and mandatory programs. In 1997 Durham County passed a mandatory recycling ordinance that has been instrumental reducing the amount of recyclable materials entering our landfills. I would support a mandatory requirement for the installation of water flow restrictive devices in all new commercial and multi-family residential developments. We should encourage the voluntary usage of rain barrels and water cisterns to reduce run off and conserve water, it is imperative that we find ways to provide these tools to low and moderate income households. We could provide incentives to developers who incorporate voluntary water conservation measures and green technology into their subdivisions and developments.

8. What, if any, permanent water conservation measures should be implemented in Durham County? What usage goal, in gallons per day, should be set for residential customers? Industrial/ commercial customers? How can the county achieve these reduction goals?

Residents should be educated on how to reduce water consumption during peak daytime hours. Homeowners should be encouraged not to wash vehicles at home unless 50% of the water is recycled, or it can be demonstrated that 30 gallons of water or less is used to wash the vehicle. I believe that private and public decorative fountains should only use recycled water and that carwashes should be required to use recycled water. With the average family of four consuming between 60--70 gallons per day, the use of low flow features could take 15 or more gallons off of that total. I think it is reasonable to ask residents to try to limit their usage to between 40 and 45 gallons per day residentially. The use of low flow devices and better management of water use can drop average usage dramatically. The use of reclaimed water for irrigation, and xeriscaping landscapes will also cut down on wasteful water usage. The District needs to pass resolutions and encourage the County and City to adopt ordinances that will put these practices in place. Ordinances without adequate enforcement tools are ineffective.

9. Many Durham County residents rely on groundwater and domestic wells for their drinking water. How should the county address the quantity and quality needs of those customers?

The County must make every exhaustive effort to make available to every resident in Durham clean and safe drinking water. The County and the District must work hand in hand in monitoring stormwater runoff in our more developed and urban areas so that the pollutants from this runoff do not end up in the groundwater and well water of our rural county residents. We must work to prevent nitrates and other hazards from leaching into the groundwater.

10. The WHIP program is designed to increase wildlife on private lands. How do you think the program is working? What could be improved?

I am not very familiar with the program but from my understanding. This program works very well in large plain states across our nation. It has been very effective in the creation and preservation of wildlife habitats on private lands. I understand that North Carolina received between $500,000 and $800,000 in allocations for this program in 2007, and money given to assist in wildlife and land conservation is critical to our cause. I would say that with many like programs, improvements can always come in the way of broad spectrum education of private land owners.

11. Evaluate the effectiveness of the Farm Protection Program. What are the successes and challenges of that program? How do you suggest that it be improved?

The Farm and Ranch Protection Program (FRPP) is another program that helps private land owners make sure that their land is not bought out and used for development. This Program allows for matching funds to government sources to purchase conservation easements. This allows for the district the ability to enter into agreements with the farmers that would allow purchase of the title with the understanding that the land would be for conservational use. The NCRS reports that through 2003, this program has saved over 300,000 acres of land across 42 different states. The easement allows for the landowner to retain all rights to the property and does not affect the landowner's ability to receive a loan on their property. North Carolina received between $1.5 million and $3 million in allocations for the FRPP. These funds could be used to preserve lands along the Eno.

12. What funding issues are facing the Soil and Water District? How do you propose to ensure the district receives full funding? Are there alternative funding sources the district could explore? If so, what are they?

Along with maintaining the current level if contribution from state and federal agencies, it is critical that the District look into getting financial supplements from the City and County. The City has added its own conservationist as part of the water management system. Because the city is a very large and real portion of the District, it seems like a better use of resources to provide funding to the legislatively created body tasked with this responsibility. The District also needs to procure more grant money so that we can expand the creek projects and reach out to more areas of the District.

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