Commentary, News

Sierra Club calls for an end to failed “solar bee” project in Jordan Lake

As Chris Fitzsimon explained at some length earlier this month, the silly experiment by state environmental officials to clean up the Triangle’s Jordan Lake with over-sized eggbeaters known as “solar bees” has been the disastrous flop that anyone paying attention could have foreseen:

Solar bee“It is now indisputable that the mixers still in place aren’t doing anything about the algae problem, which makes sense when you think about it. As Mary McLean Asbill of the Southern Environmental Law Center told ABC11 News, “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.”

It is absurd indeed, but that’s exactly what legislative leaders said would happen when they approved the no-bid contract with the company that makes the giant mixers that are supposed to miraculously stir the lake clean.

And their failure has cost more than just the several millions of dollars of taxpayer money that were wasted. The folly of the SolarBees means that the pollution in Jordan Lake has not been addressed and it’s the drinking water supply for hundreds of thousands of people.”

Now, environmental advocates are renewing their call to end the wasteful and destructive experiment. Yesterday, the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club called on the legislature’s Environmental Review Commission to demand action from the McCrory administration. This is the conclusion to the group’s letter:

“In light of the implications for water quality and taxpayers, we urge the ERC to, at a minimum, require DEQ to provide a status update on the report, along with the new timetable for review by the EMC and delivery to the legislature. We would also encourage the ERC to require DEQ to provide an explanation of any changes made to the originally published report.

Even without a formal presentation, the ERC would appear to now have adequate water quality monitoring data and in-depth analysis to show the ineffectiveness of the water mixers. We respectfully request the ERC to recommend that the NCGA end the SolarBee pilot project and allow full implementation of the Jordan Lake Rules. We also request that any taxpayer funds allocated to DEQ for the demonstration project be reallocated to the Jordan Lake nutrient management strategy developed by the Environmental Management Commission.

The ERC has an important role in protecting Jordan Lake as a safe drinking water source and ensuring that strategies to maintain Jordan Lake water quality are based on science. Thank you for your attention to this important water quality issue.”

Let’s hope that lawmakers are paying attention and that environmental advocates keep pressing their demands.

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