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Committee Charged To Clean-Up Jordan Lake

Jordan Lake, Durham, NC
Dave DeWitt
Jordan Lake, Durham

A committee of state lawmakers is trying to determine how to best clean-up Jordan Lake. The group met for the first time yesterday.  Jordan Lake has large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus, which on their own don’t present any significant problem. But when those nutrients sit stagnant in the lake for as long as a year at a time, it leads to toxic algae and chlorophyll.  The state is going to soon start using something called the SolarBee, devices that will move water around and decrease stagnation.

“We don’t know if any of its going to work. We don’t know if the rules as they stood were going to work. What we want to do is try to find out what works, what’s fair and how it will have an impact on the economies upstream and as a whole,” said Republican House Representative Stephen Ross, who is on the committee.

Lawmakers recently announced they will implement 150 Solar Bees this spring. The new technology will generate circulation and move the water around.

The SolarBee deal is worth about $1.5 million and has been highly criticized as a back room agreement.  Environmentalists say lawmakers need to look at the root of the pollution not just stagnation. The lake provides drinking water to Cary, Apex and parts of Durham.  The EPA has been listed it as “impaired” due to high levels of pollutants, for more than a decade. In 2009 the Legislature voted by a wide margin to pass the "Jordan Lake Rules", a new set of regulations that would work to reduce about one third of the pollution in the lake. In 2013 the General Assembly repealed those rules.

Jeff Tiberii covers politics for WUNC. Before that, he served as the station's Greensboro Bureau Chief.
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