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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Nancy Holt, October 27, 1985. Interview K-0010. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Benefits and huge disadvantages of the Cane Creek Reservoir

Holt passionately expresses the impact of a reservoir in Cane Creek. She argues how the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards will prevent farmers from continuing their livelihood. Through the example of the Teer family, Holt explains the deleterious effects of the reservoir on the residents and on the land. However, Holt acknowledges the stronger communal bonds brought about due to the fight against the OWASA initiative.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Nancy Holt, October 27, 1985. Interview K-0010. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

FRANCES E. WEBB:
Do you thing the Teers are going to have to end up selling?
NANCY HOLT:
Well you see one of the things OWASA did was lie to everybody and everybody's not stupid out here. They said "Now we will not tell you you can't have dairy farms out here." Of course they won't tell you, the EPA'll tell you. You can't have cow shit running into a water source. You know, we're not stupid. But, some of the people believe this that, you know, that they, "they" meaning OWASA, said that it wouldn't hurt the farms out here. Do you see all these rolling hills? You can't have cows crapping on hills and the water running down into a water, municipal water source. You can not. And so they have just - said "We're not going to tell you you have to close down your dairy operation." No they won't. EPA will do it for them. Absolutely can not have it. So Teer's, which is - Teer's farm which has been in operation - I mean the grandfather and the father and the, Lord knows. Mike Teer is like my son. And I can see what it's done to them, the apprehension. Because there's the grandfather. There was the uncle. There's Thomas. And his son. And two daughters. And their families. That's their livelihood. That's their life. That's their home. Now true, they're not going to take their house, but when you take that big chunk of land away from them and when you can't run cows because the streams run through there, and the run-off from the fields. You tell me EPA is going to allow this farm to continue. Just, you know, it's two divergent things. It will not happen. And Thomas knows that. He knows that their life is going to change and he knows these changes are coming. And I think it's awfully sad. Terribly, terribly sad.
FRANCES E. WEBB:
But they've been fighting quite a while. And I imagine that's an economic drain as well.
NANCY HOLT:
Well, Thomas and Evelyn have poured everything that they've got. I expect they've depleted their capital reserves in order to help pay for these attorneys. And, you'll have to verify this with Thomas but, I think he had placed a bid on the land that OWASA was going to buy from the Stanfords. And CCB pulled a fast one on him. They either accepted a bid after the bid period was closed - or something. They did something. You'd have to verify that with them. But, I think Thomas was considering taking Central Carolina Bank to court too. Because once the bidding has been closed, you don't open it to allow OWASA to come in and place a higher bid. But they did. So, it is a political thing and it has political ramifications everywhere. And, and the little community could, truly could not fight. We tried to go out. I contacted fund raisers, national type fund raisers, and there wasn't a whole lot that, that could be done. We were thinking about going to people like John Deere and the big fertilizer companies and the, the big tractor companies to see if they would not give us a grant to bring in some real political powers. Or real fund-raising people. And to bring - get some lobbyists in Washington. But we could not. Because we were not a real tax-exempt organization, corporate structures are limited to what they can do to nonentity entities like this. And we were just small peanuts. We didn't have the resources to, to do it. But I think we did a hell of a job for eight years. Eight years of fighting with very little other than bake sales and community efforts and, and a dollar here and a ten dollars there and a ten dollar a month pledge. I think we did a phenomenal job. It brought the community together, made it more cohesive. And gave us a sense of purpose. And for that I thank them. And I'm sure that if the newcomers to the community would think about it, they would realize how quickly they were assimilated into a community, and became - quickly became a part of it. There was none of this, well you are a doctor, lawyer, or Indian chief. And I am a farmer, a laborer, whatever. We were just a community. And it had it some very, very positive effects. But there is a lot of anger and resentment here. And, and how do you channel that anger and resentment? Very, very hard, because there's so many forces to be resentful and angry with. So it will be interesting to see how it all sifts down.