Editorials

After SolarBees fail, NC must get serious about clearing Jordan Lake

One of the 36 SolarBee units that were deployed on Jordan Lake.
One of the 36 SolarBee units that were deployed on Jordan Lake. 2014 NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

This SolarBee project was suspicious from the beginning. Instead of putting in rules governing development upstream, the state Department of Environmental Quality put in water-churning devices called SolarBees to combat algae in Jordan Lake, which supplies drinking water for 300,000 Triangle residents. It was a goofy idea that clearly was an attempt to please big-money developers by allowing them to do whatever they wished in communities upstream of the lake.

The project was a failure, although some in DEQ tried to suppress an unfavorable report on the SolarBees. The truth won out, however, because the report got out and demonstrated that the SolarBees simply didn’t work.

Now, rather than spend $1.5 million to keep the project going, DEQ has decided to look for alternatives. Will DEQ now put special algae-eating goldfish in the lake? Or perhaps the department will bring in magicians to make the algae disappear, as long as they are Republican magicians, of course.

How about instead instituting some responsible limits on upstream development to curb pollution at its source? That would mean reducing harmful runoff and chemicals and the like. An attack of those things on Jordan Lake is an attack on, a physical threat to, residents who depend on the lake for their drinking water. Further problems with the lake will create problems not 100 years from now but right now.

As eager as Gov. Pat McCrory may be to please developers, he’d leave a better legacy if he stood up for environmental regulation instead of standing down whenever the subject comes up.

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