Concerns over 'Lake Buffer Bill' on Lake Norman

- It's a bill that could change the look of Lake Norman, as well as other area lakes and rivers.

The bill would allow homeowners to get rid of trees and other plants along the waterfront.

Some are worried, though, about potential environmental impacts as well.

"Catawba buffers have served over 20 years as a way to protect water quality," said Noth Carolina Wildlife Federation CEO Tim Gestwicki.

Now, opponents of Senate Bill 434 fear for the future of filtration.

"This is a perfect opportunity to ruin Lake Norman," said Marine Contractor Mark Lancaster.

The bill would completely eliminate the buffers, or natural areas, serving as barriers.  The areas as currently required on the main stem of the Catawba River.

"The natural areas serve as that buffer for insecticides, fertilizer, pesticides," said North Carolina Republican Senator Jeff Tarte.  "So they don't go directly in the lake and get absorbed by natural plant life."

"They serve as great wildlife corridors," added Gestwicki. "And literally filter pollutants before they hit the watershed."

Supporters of the bill say it's a matter of property rights, but opponents feel there needs to be a balance.

"It's not all about money and raising property taxes and getting more tax money," said Lancaster.  "It's more about balance and living a life where we have nature and protect our future for our children."

"If the bill gets implemented, people could take a bulldozer and bulldoze into the water," said Tarte.  "So you would have erosion.  You have kids tubing, swimming and you don't want the water source to be polluted."

"In this big growth period, our water quality is good," said Gestwicki. "The buffers are working, so taking them away is insane."

The bill passed the Senate and is heading to the House.

FOX 46 Charlotte did try reaching out to some of the bill's sponsors, but hasn't heard back yet.

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