H. Kenneth Hudnell: Work together to clean up Jordan Lake

December 26, 2013 

The Dec. 22 editorial “Saving Jordan” assumes that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s policy of implementing nutrient management strategies restores lakes impaired by excessive algal growth (eutrophic). It does not. No eutrophic lake of at least 1,000 acres in size and 90 percent of nutrient input from non-point sources has been restored.

The agency’s watershed management point-source (pipes) program has been successful (now 5 to 10 percent of input), but many non-point-source (everything else) controls are marginally effective yet very expensive. Current policy does not implement the Clean Water Act’s Clean Lakes program, the use of treatments within waterbodies to reduce stress on impaired biochemical processes and enable recovery.

Impaired lakes are analogous to ill humans in need of therapy to recover, and eutrophic waterbodies are already similar to wastewater lagoons in need of treatment.

Predominance by toxigenic cyanobacteria over the beneficial algae at the base of the food web is the direct cause of Jordan’s impairments. Cyanobacterial “blooms” require both high nutrient levels and quiescent, stagnant water. The suspended nutrient management rules aim to reduce phosphorus input into Jordan by 5 percent, a trivial amount that is unlikely to restore Jordan given its huge internal load that recycles to cause “blooms.”

Medora’s solar-powered, water-circulation technology is successfully suppressing cyanobacteria in about 350 smaller lakes. The current circulation project will assess cyanobacterial suppression in Jordan, while a legislative committee has a comprehensive systems-approach strategy developed. A systems approach combines cost-effective watershed management input controls with several waterbody treatments to suppress cyanobacteria and remove nutrients from the lake and inlets where they are more accessible and concentrations higher. A well-crafted systems approach can eliminate the cyanobacterial “blooms” and health risks from their highly potent toxins, restore Jordan in the near term and protect downstream waters at a fraction of the estimated $1-2 billion cost of the suspended rules.

It’s time we supplement preventive medicine (input controls) with therapy (waterbody treatments) to save Jordan.

H. Kenneth Hudnell

VP and Director of Science, GridBee/SolarBee Medora Corp.

New Bern

The writer’s company has contracted with the state to use floating pumps to stir Jordan Lake. The length limit was waived for a fuller response.

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