Those SolarBees Aren’t Doing a Damn Thing to Clean Jordan Lake | Triangulator | Indy Week

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Those SolarBees Aren’t Doing a Damn Thing to Clean Jordan Lake

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Here's some disconcerting news for people who like, you know, clean water—especially the more than three hundred thousand residents of Wake and Chatham counties who rely on Jordan Lake for their drinking water.

In March, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality released a draft report that found that SolarBees—giant mixers that are supposed to eliminate nutrient pollution in Jordan Lake and other bodies of water, for which the legislature allocated $3 million in lieu of actually stopping developers from polluting the lake—don't work at all. So, in typical McCrory administration fashion, the DEQ removed the report from its website and from the agenda of the Environmental Management Commission.

A law passed in 2015 instructed the DEQ and the EMC to submit a joint report on SolarBees to the legislature's Environmental Review Commission by April 1. The DEQ missed that deadline—it says the legislature gave it an extension—and the EMC hasn't yet reviewed the report. It won't meet again until May; the legislature, of course, convenes for its short session later this month.

"[The report] that was posted on our website was a draft that will be replaced by the final version," says DEQ spokeswoman Stephanie Hawco. She promises that the final report will be ready soon.

"A scientifically based review of strategies to reduce the excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) in Jordan Lake will be critical to future decisions by the N.C. General Assembly and to the citizens of the state," Molly Diggins, state director of the N.C. Sierra Club, wrote in a letter to lawmakers. "The [commission] has an important role in protecting Jordan Lake as a safe drinking water source and ensuring that strategies to maintain Jordan Lake water quality are based on science."

But for now, the state will continue entrusting its water to expensive contraptions that don't work, because to do otherwise might infringe on the rights of developers to dump pollutants into Jordan Lake. Drink up, everyone.

triangulator@indyweek.com

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