Tom Reeder: Rules need freshening

June 22, 2013 

Rules need freshening

In the June 21 Point of View “Rules key to cleaner area lakes,” professors Kenneth H. Reckhow and Michael D. Aitken make some good points about the necessity for having rules that will help us protect water quality in Jordan Lake.

As director of the N.C. Division of Water Resources and acting director of the state Division of Water Quality (both in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources), I would like to take an opportunity to discuss our position.

First, we agree with Kenneth H. Reckhow and Michael D. Aitken that a “first principle of responsible stewardship for any public water supply is to protect the watershed.” While we should never forget the cost associated with the implementation of the rules, it is undeniable that a clean environment is vital to the health and well being of our citizens and our state’s continued economic success.

As such, we are against the wholesale repeal of the Jordan Lake Rules. DENR’s priority is to ensure that the lake remains a safe and reliable drinking water supply for existing and projected demand. In addition, the department wants to ensure the lake meets federal standards under the Clean Water Act for recreation and fishing. The Jordan Lake Rules are the result of the application of fundamental science as well as numerous stakeholder meetings, research and formal rulemaking. If the entire suite of rules is eliminated, then reductions in nutrient discharges will need to be made for those permitted to discharge to the Jordan basin, or the state could be found in violation of federal law for failure to implement the corrective action plan for the lake.

With that said, we do feel that a fresh approach to the Jordan Lake Rules is warranted and could be beneficial. The governor’s office and DENR have worked closely with the General Assembly to produce a proposal that will protect the lake with less controversy and potentially less cost than the existing rules package.

As we work through the process, we are keeping an open mind to all new technologies and other ideas that could provide us with viable and economical solutions to address water quality in Jordan Lake. All technologies are unproven until they are tried at scale; the sensible way forward is to keep the rules in place while also investigating other solutions.

Tom Reeder

Director N.C. Division of Water Resources, acting director, Division of Water Quality, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Raleigh

The length limit was waived to give a fuller response to the article.

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