Fred W. Burt | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week

Elections » Candidate Questionnaires

Fred W. Burt

Candidate for Wake County Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisors


Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Fred W. Burt

Date of Birth: 2 Sep 1952

Campaign Web Site: none

Occupation & Employer: Farmer, self-employed

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

As a working farmer, I want to add a voice that brings a lifetime of actual work experience with soil and water to the board. I understand how soil and water quality impacts all our lives.

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

First, loss of forestland and farmland to development and how to protect what we have left. Second, water quality and soil erosion in urban and suburban areas.

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

The SWCD is not a legislative body that can enact legislation. It can only deal with current law and regulations and administer those according to the Wake Board's policies. It can, however, go before those bodies with proposals to enhance soil and water issues. As for specifics, I want to see programs and appropriate funding to carry out conservation practices and see what measures can be developed to improve streams in urban areas.

4. What, if any, permanent water conservation measures should be implemented in Wake 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?

This is not within the scope of the Wake SWCD. Water usage from municipal/county sources is subject to their policy decisions.

5. On a related note, which do you favor—voluntary or mandatory measures? Which do you believe is more effective and why?

This is not within the scope of the SWCD.

6. Thousands of Wake 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?

This is not within the scope of the Wake SWCD. The County Health Department and Wake Zoning and Planning are charged with well water quality. The SWCD can develop policies that impact on the undeveloped land in the county. Smart land use policies and restriction of development in sensitive areas ( controlled by Zoning and Planning ) would enhance groundwater quality.

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

Soil and water quality affect both rural and urban residents. We should have a strong program to minimize soil erosion and reduce urban/suburban stormwater runoff that will improve water quality in our streams. The farmland areas of our county are doing a good job at this. Farmers are the original environmentalists. The only problem streams in Wake are in our urban areas.

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

Economic incentives are already in place to assist rural landowners through various cost-share and grant funding sources. There is insufficient funding for the Community Conservation Assistance Program to assist in developed areas. The funding sources come from a combination of federal, state, and county fund sites. Many of these are a result of legislative action.

9. Land use policy impacts the quality and quantity of our natural resources, including drinking water. In light of Wake County's rapid growth, how should the conservation district work with planning and zoning departments to protect the area's soil and water from urban runoff?

The SWCD has professional soil and water experts on its staff. These provide both input and practical applications to the county. I believe that Wake County must address the issue of development if we are to improve soil and water (and air) quality. Open farmland and forestland provides the best and least expensive way to do this. Urban runoff (stormwater) is regulated largely by state law and county regulations.

10. Tropical Storm Hanna resulted in flash flooding of Crabtree Creek and parts of Crabtree Valley Mall parking areas. Is this an area of concern for stormwater runoff? Identify other areas in the county with similar problems and how they should be mitigated.

Many of the stormwater problems are a result of development. Before the massive development in the county, there were fewer flooding issues in the county. The more farmland and forest that is available, the more the soil will accept and hold water. Even grassed yards in developments and golf courses do not hold the water that farmland holds. When it rains, the water is either absorbed into the soil or, if the soil is too compacted to absorb the water, if becomes runoff water. Most of the upstream area above Crabtree Valley Mall is developed, therefore, the water runs off and can cause flooding. Something similar happens on my farm. I have a creek that almost never flooded until about 15 years ago. That's when development started on lands upstream. Now, after not much more than a 2-3 inch rain in a 1-2 hour period, the creek floods. According to state law, because the developed land upstream is being used in an allowed manner, there is not much I can do about it. Wake County must realize that farmland is more important than development to water and soil quality and will help keep property taxes from going higher to pay for growth.

11. Assess the effectiveness of the voluntary agricultural district, which is designed to increase the visibility of farms and to support Wake County farmers.

I believe it is a good program that should be expanded where possible. I have my own farm in a voluntary agricultural district. As far as effectiveness, the program needs enhancement through legislative and regulatory action to give it more "teeth" as regards to resisting being over powered by urban areas of the county.

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?

Two of the current funding issues that are most important are the Community Conservation Assistance Program (CCAP) which provides funding to assist in urban and suburban streams. Only $200,000 has been appropriated statewide for this program. The other is the Farmland Preservation Program. Wake County has received no funding for this program. I have stated earlier how important I believe farmland and forestland is to soil and water quality. There is a mix of funding sources for the SWCD. Most of these are funded through legislation. The Boards are limited in their funding by what is appropriated. The Board has limited abilities to ask for additional funding. The most effective way is for citizens to ask their representatives, federal, state, and local, to provide more funding. However, you must realize that every entity wants more funding and many legislators feel soil and water quality is on the lower end of funding requests.

Add a comment