I like and keep bees. Their pollination activities are a critical ecosystem service. Our bees, however, are different from those being used in a demonstration project that recently received state funding. My bees, you see, don’t circulate water to reduce the affects of excess nutrient pollution. It remains to be seen if those preferred by the legislature are able to perform that service.
In NC’s recently concluded legislative session, two bills were passed that affected the State’s effort to control nutrient pollution in Jordan Lake. First, Senate Bill 515 further delayed by three years enacting measures that would help reduce levels of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution to the Lake. Instead the legislature passed Session Law 2013-360 to utilize a water circulation technology to try and treat the symptoms of nutrient over enrichment – excess levels of algae in Jordan Lake.
While circulation can help suppress algae, it will not affect longer term watershed measures aimed at reducing pollution levels. Nevertheless, Session Law 2013-360 will fund a demonstration project utilizing Solar Bee. Solar Bee technology uses the sun’s energy to power a circulation system that provides “near-term solutions to targeted water quality problems in fresh-to-brackish waters”. The demonstration is being funded through a $1.3 million grant from the State’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund and will be targeted at the most polluted portion of the Lake – the Upper New Hope subwatershed.
With 2012 water quality samples violating Chlorophyll a standards in the Upper New Hope arm of the lake between 59 and 88% of the time, the technology will be tested in an extremely challenging environment. If it gets deployed as planned, we’ll begin to see if in-lake treatment is part of the solution for improved water quality in Jordan.
More likely, a balanced approach of pollution reduction is needed as a long-term solution to cleaning Jordan Lake. According to the Durham News reports, both EPA and local environmental groups favor an approach that reduces pollution sources. With all this interest from varied perspectives, this demonstration project will certainly be something to keep an eye on.