House committee votes to delay Jordan Lake cleanup

For immediate release

Raleigh—A panel of house lawmakers voted today to delay the cleanup plan designed to reduce pollution into Jordan Lake by up to 35 percent.  The Triangle reservoir, a popular state park and a source of drinking water, has failed basic water quality standards for more than a decade.  Environmental advocates criticized the measure, which would delay the cleanup rules adopted in 2009 for the third year in a row.

“The longer we wait to restore Jordan lake, the longer we wait to stop algae blooms, fish kills, and beach closings,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, state director of Environment North Carolina.

More than a million people visit Jordan Lake each year for fishing, swimming, boating, and camping; and 300,000 Wake and Chatham county residents rely on it for drinking water.  Development upstream of Jordan Lake has taken its toll, however, and the lake has routinely failed basic water quality standards since 1997.  

To restore the lake, the General Assembly passed a law to require developers, wastewater treatment facilities, and other sources to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous pollution into the lake over time. The result of years of extensive negotiations and scientific study, the measure passed nearly unanimously in 2009.  The compromise rules established a multi-year, phased process for pollution reductions, a direct response to upstream sources who wanted more time to comply.  Many of the key deadlines in the cleanup plan are still in the future.

“Decision makers spent more than a decade developing a plan to clean up Jordan Lake,” said Ouzts.  “Lawmakers should give the plan a chance to work, not let big developers pollute the lake year after year.”

The measure unveiled in the House committee today would also allocate $2 million from the already under-funded Clean Water Management Trust Fund to go towards testing a water circulation technology that has been around since the 1960’s.  It has never proven to work in a water body the size of Jordan, which spans more than 20 square miles.

The bill now goes to the full House, then has to be approved by the Senate, which had voted previously to repeal the 2009 rules.

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Environment North Carolina is statewide, citizen-funded advocacy organization working to protect the places we love and the environmental values we share.