NC DEQ Will Actually Remove SolarBees from Jordan Lake, Because They're Not Working | News

NC DEQ Will Actually Remove SolarBees from Jordan Lake, Because They're Not Working

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Well, we did not see this coming at all.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality announced this afternoon that Secretary Donald van der Vaart "made the science-based decision" to "discontinue the SolarBee project after 21 months of data indicated no significant improvement in water quality."

Here's the full press release:

RALEIGH

Thursday, May 5, 2016
The state environmental department announced today it will discontinue the SolarBee project after 21 months of data indicated no significant improvement in water quality.

A preliminary assessment released in October 2015 was conducted using data from the first 13 months of the demonstration project and historical data. Secretary van der Vaart requested that staff evaluate the most recent data collected from October 2015 through April 2016 and make a recommendation on how to proceed.

“I appreciate the work our staff has done over the last two years to evaluate the potential of the SolarBee technology to improve water quality at Jordan Lake,” said Donald R. van der Vaart, secretary of the state environmental agency. “I’m discontinuing the SolarBee project after reviewing nearly two years of scientific data that show it will not yield the intended results.”

DEQ will recommend to the General Assembly that the state continue to evaluate nutrient management strategies. N.C. Division of Water Quality staff will present the latest SolarBee data and recommendation to the Environmental Management Commission’s Water Quality Committee on May 11. Click here to review the most recent SolarBee data.
Crystal Feldman, a DEQ spokesperson, says the department did not reverse course on its position on SolarBees in Jordan Lake from a revised report that DEQ released this morning. Feldman says the North Carolina General Assembly made the recommendation to continue studying data from SolarBees through October 2018 in 2015, and the revised report does not amount to a recommendation from DEQ to continue to study SolarBees through 2018.

Now would be a nice time to reinstate the Jordan Lake cleanup rules, as our friends at the North Carolina Sierra Club note. 

"Inaction is not an option," says Dustin Chicurel-Bayard, the Sierra Club's communications director. "Over 300,000 Triangle residents depend on Jordan Lake as a drinking water supply. Now more than ever we need the Jordan Lake rules reinstated."

The Jordan Lake rules are set to go into effect either in 2018, or one after the completion of the SolarBee pilot project, whichever is longer. Since the SolarBee pilot project was ostensibly completed yesterday, 2018 is longer.

How about reinstating the rules now, N.C. General Assembly? Or will elected officials try a new "pilot program" to further delay implementing cleanup?

We'll be holding our breath for the former but expecting the latter. It would be nice to be surprised again.  


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