Commentary

Yet another report indicates that “solar bees” are a flop

More bad news for conservative politicians and bureaucrats doing everything in their power to avoid/delay the costly but essential clean-up of the Triangle’s Jordan Lake: yet another study has found the much-heralded plan to improve water quality with big eggbeaters known as “solar bees” to have been a big, fat failure.

This is from the newest report from the Department of Environmental Quality, “Survey of In Situ Strategies for Mitigation of Water Quality Impairments in North Carolina”:

“After reviewing the available scientific evidence, no single in situ technology or combination of technologies appears to be feasible for restoring North Carolina’s large waterbodies, including the piedmont reservoirs and estuaries subject to nutrient management strategies. A comprehensive, adaptive, and science-based approach to reducing nutrient inputs to the watershed remains the most viable option for recovering these waterbodies from impairment. Based on available information, in situ strategies may be able to serve some adjunct role to watershed controls, but the dearth of trials for such technologies at large scales makes this possibility virtually hypothetical at this point.”

That’s a fancy, executive summary way of saying the eggbeaters don’t work. Here’s more from later in the report:

“Monitoring data from this study indicates no significant change in water quality from areas where the machines are placed in impaired areas versus control sites, or from historical versus project area data (Division of Water Resources, 2015). Utilization of this measure in NC reservoirs does not appear to be effective as they do not have the ability to overcome the normal productivity of high nutrient systems. These create aesthetic issues as they float on the surface of the water, and are continually visible. They have the potential to create other user conflicts such as hazards to boating due to the density and amount of machines required to circulate large open waterbodies (sic).”

As you will recall, a report last fall already reported similar results.

The bottom line, as Mary MacLean Asbill of the Southern Environmental law Center told ABC 11’s Jon Camp:

“The report indicates that there has no progress in cleaning up Jordon Lake. There’s been no reduction in the nutrients which is the problem the SolarBees were purported to address. The pollution needs to be stopped before entering the lake. It is absurd to think you can remove the pollution from the lake without doing anything to stem the flow of it into the lake. The measures need to be taken in the beginning rather than the end.”

Hopefully, state lawmakers and the McCrory administration will now, finally, get off their duffs and get to work halting the pollution that’s flowing into the lake. Sadly, however, more stalling and excuse making for polluters seems just as likely.

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