The response to our Craft Happiness IPA Project has made us, well, happy.
It was a simple idea: have a beer, and make a difference. we theme an IPA with a charitable need, and give proceeds and awareness to a different need every month.
Since January that idea has been embraced by communities all over North Carolina. Just this past weekend, to support this month’s Craft Happiness theme of clean natural water resources (and our Clean IPA), Triangle residents got together for a #CraftHappiness Cleanup at Lake Johnson in Raleigh.
Now obviously, clean natural water resources are kind of a big deal to craft brewers. More than 90% of the product we make is water. Here in the Triad, the responsibility for our lakes and rivers is in the hands of Yadkin Riverkeeper. Their efforts to protect and improve the Yadkin Pee Dee River Basin culminate every year with a summer-long paddle tour down the entire Yadkin River.
As we wrap up this month of bringing awareness to our rivers. lakes and streams, we sat down with YRK’s Will Scott to get the pulse of what’s going on with their organization.
What’s keeping Yadkin Riverkeeper busy these days?
Yadkin Riverkeeper is focused on reducing the amount of mud and fertilizer in the river. Last year, the Yadkin was #1 in North Carolina for levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment (also known as mud). You don’t get a trophy for that.
The two main culprits here are our agricultural sector and our cities.
On the agricultural side, EPA ranked North Carolina #1 in the country in amount of manure per acre of farmland. The Yadkin has one of the biggest concentrations of poultry facilities in the state, enough to house around fifty million chickens at any time -and that’s just in the upper part of the watershed. While most people have heard about hog farms, poultry in North Carolina actually generates three times as much nitrogen and six times as much phosphorus as hogs. That’s a lot of poop.
It’s so much that our corn, hay and soy crops can’t absorb all of it and these powerful fertilizers ends up in the river, growing algae in lakes like High Rock. That can cause fish kills and be dangerous to swimmers, particularly kids.
Our cities are the other main source of nutrient overload – while cities in other parts of the state like the Triangle have put controls on how much fertilizer they pump into local rivers, most towns and cities on the Yadkin still just let them run into the river. We’ll be working with the cities and agricultural organizations to find the most efficient way to reduce pollution from both sectors and clean the river up.
What details can you share about the upcoming Yadkin River Tour?
We have Yadkin River Tour paddles coming up August 19th in Elkin and September 24th to Carolina Heritage Vineyards in Surry County. You can bring your own boat or rent one from us. We run shuttles, so all you have to do is show up, paddle and join us for a bite or a drink after!
What’s one thing you want people to know about their natural water resources?
The Yadkin’s headwaters start at Blowing Rock and run along the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way into Virginia. When you drink water in Winston-Salem, that’s where it comes from. We have some of the cleanest, most protected headwaters of any river in the state – all we have to do is make sure that it stays clean once it comes off the mountains!