State political changes this past year promised pushback on policies passed under previous administrations. The promise of change has certainly played out for environmental protections with two examples being the threatened rollback of protections for streamside forests in the Neuse and Tar Basins and removal of the installation of new groins at the beach. Yesterday, however, a proposal passed the Senate that moves the state backward in its effort to control nutrients in its drinking waters. For those that didn’t follow the vote, Senate Bill 515 repeals the rules that have been developed to clean up and protect Jordan Lake a drinking water source for some Triangle municipalities. The measure now moves to the House for their review which will hopefully end in a different outcome.
The Jordan Lake Nutrient Reduction Strategy was developed by the State with input from affected municipal governments over a 5 year period. The strategy was finally completed in 2008 but required review by the legislature in 2009 where several of the strategy’s measures were delayed. Subsequent additional legislative delays in 2011 and 2012 were passed limiting implementation to protection of streamside forests and limits to the discharge of phosphorus from wastewater treatment plants. Last year, after years of preparation, programs to improve stormwater quality on new development were to take effect but a last minute bill delayed those measures by another 2 years.
This year’s Senate, however, has voted to repeal the entire rule package. Why is this a mistake? The State’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources is essentially trying to put the lake on a pollution diet. One they have been preparing for years and one that’s needed based on monitoring of the Lake’s water quality which shows the upper portion of the lake violating nutrient-related water quality standards 59% of the time in 2012. Violations were also reported in the Haw River and Lower New Hope portions of the lake. Eliminating the diet won’t make the Lake healthier. Let’s hope wiser heads prevail in the State House.
Here’s a link to the N & O story on the vote