The Jordan Game

Not the basketball player whose game was enjoyable to watch but the unnerving game being played with water supply for Triangle communities. This past spring, the NC leg passed Session Law 2017-57, a budget bill funding experimental technologies for reducing harmful effects of nutrient pollution in Jordan Lake, a drinking water source for the Triangle. The bill is being used to fund wide use of SePRO algaecides on the Lake in an attempt to control high algae levels.

The Army Corps of Engineers currently owns and operates Jordan Lake for multiple uses covered in a previous post.  The proposal from SePRO would require the dumping of tons of chemicals and other substances in the lake in an attempt to control algae. Given that the Lake is under Federal control, Corps approval is needed for this plan to make sure uses of the lake are not compromised.

Given that this technology is untried at this scale, the following are some concerns over it:

  • Would this project contribute to another impairment of Jordan Lake? Repeated application of tons of chemicals may adversely affect the biology of the Lake. One of the chemicals being proposed is Copper which, in excess concentrations, can be toxic to aquatic organisms.
  • Without the rule driven requirements to control nutrient pollution, how long would SePRO be funded to continue this project?
  • Could the treatment area be effectively expanded? The project is being tested on this most polluted arm of the lake at a cost of $1.3 million. If successful there, could it be attempted at other polluted areas of Jordan Lake.
  • Is the Lake a good candidate for this product?  The Lake is more shallow than areas where the SePRO chemical treatments have been effectively used.
Kayakers making good use of Jordan Lake.

Overall, there’s little evidence that this will be any different than the failed Solar Bee project. That is, taxpayer money being used to fund experimental technology but not supporting proven nutrient reduction measures. Actual lake clean up is needed so that we can rely on Jordan Lake for our long-term water supply needs.

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