Best boondoggle | SolarBees on Jordan Lake | Local Color

Best boondoggle

SolarBees on Jordan Lake

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Jordan Lake is an incredibly vital resource for Wake and Chatham counties; it's the source of their drinking water, and you don't get any more vital than that. And yet, it's also been terribly polluted by runoff from developers. In lieu of actually stopping those developers from polluting the lake, the legislature, in its infinite wisdom, decided to drop $2 million on these things called SolarBees, giant mixers that are supposed to eliminate pollution. But—as environmentalists predicted—the SolarBees didn't do anything to clean up Jordan Lake.

At least, that's according to a draft report the Department of Environmental Quality released in March. But then the DEQ, in classic McCrory administration style, quietly retconned that report and promised a new version. And then the DEQ demoted Steve Tedder, a water-quality expert who had the temerity to question the administration's decision to retract the report, from his post on the Environmental Management Commission's Water Quality Committee.

On May 5, we finally got to see that new report; lo and behold, all criticism of the SolarBees was scrubbed. But that very afternoon, the DEQ announced that, because the SolarBees were ineffective, the program was being shut down. Then, a week after that, the DEQ's Environmental Management Commission approved the original SolarBee report and passed it along to the legislature. And then, a few days later, the DEQ said it was going to pass along its own report to the legislature. We're so confused.

Anyway, the Jordan Lake rules—the ones that limit pollution into the lake, which the legislature put on hold—were scheduled to go into effect sometime between now and 2018. Unless, of course, the legislature found some other way to piss away money to keep developers happy.

And—what do you know?—that's exactly what they did. Just last week, the N.C. Senate included in its budget a provision that would delay the Jordan Lake rules' implementation through 2019, while the state spends $500,000 studying whether algae-eating freshwater mussels can clean up polluted water bodies like Jordan Lake.

We give up.

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