SWAN QUARTER – Hyde County and East Carolina University contracted the North Carolina Coastal Federation to advance community engagement and implementation of the Lake Mattamuskeet Watershed Restoration Plan. This restoration plan outlines steps that need to be taken to maintain the way of life within the county and improve water management and water quality in the lake’s watershed. Since the plan’s approval, the project partners worked diligently to secure funds to implement several of the priority actions, and their efforts have paid off. Through grants secured from the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the National Science Foundation, several priority actions from the plan will move ahead starting this summer.

Engineering services, provided by Geosyntec Consultants and Coastal Protection Engineering, will advance the priority actions identified within the plan. The top three priority actions include: developing a watershed-scale model to better understand where and how much water currently moves through the watershed, identifying a proposed service district boundary that would outline the limits of future water management efforts, and drafting engineered designs to manage water within the watershed. Federation staff will help to facilitate stakeholder and public meetings over the next two years to ensure feedback and collaboration with local community members as these engineering plans are being developed. Community engagement plans will be announced later this summer.

“With the guidance of the community vested in the Lake Mattamuskeet Watershed Restoration Plan, Hyde County is excited to transition to the engineering phase of the efforts within the watershed. This planning is critical as we work towards implementing real solutions for water quality and quantity issues at Lake Mattamuskeet,” said Daniel Brinn, Water and Flood Control Coordinator for Hyde County.

In addition to the engineering services described above, the staff at Geosyntec and Coastal Protection Engineering will assist students in East Carolina University’s Department of Engineering who are working on their senior capstone project. The engineers will act as a sounding board and mentor for the seniors as they explore possible engineered solutions for the lake’s watershed. The idea is that the professionals can guide the students in developing engineering solutions that meet real world political, regulatory, and community needs.

“We are excited to be partnering with the team from Geosyntec and Coastal Protection Engineering. Their expertise in coastal modeling and design will improve the solutions developed by the students to restore this important ecosystem,” said Dr. Randall Etheridge, Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering at East Carolina University.

In 2017, Hyde County, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formed a partnership and contracted the federation to develop a plan to address poor water quality within Lake Mattamuskeet as well as chronic and persistent flooding on the surrounding landscape.  After an 18-month long planning process that involved stakeholder and public engagement, the Lake Mattamuskeet Watershed Restoration Plan was officially approved by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality on August 7, 2019.

To view the approved watershed restoration plan, upcoming public meeting agenda, materials from past public meetings, visit: nccoast.org/lakemattamuskeet. Interested community members and stakeholders can also sign-up for the email list for future updates and leave comments via the project webpage.

Questions about the watershed plan can be directed to Michael Flynn, coastal advocate for the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s office in Wanchese at 252-473-1607.  Information will be posted to the project webpage regularly including if meetings need to be rescheduled for any reason.