After seeking to block a state-mandated effort to clean up Jordan Lake, a group of legislators have proposed a compromise bill that would severely limit pollution-reduction goals for the impaired drinking-water source. Introduced last week in the House Environment and Natural Resources committee, and set for a vote during Tuesday’s committee hearing at noon, the substitute bill would reduce pollution controls by more than three-quarters in the most impaired section of the lake, and delay critical protections until 2017.
“These provisions are totally inadequate for the restoration of water quality. It would mean the lake would never actually be cleaned up,” Chatham County Commissioner Tom Vanderbeck said at an April 30 hearing of the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.
Jordan Lake has been on EPA’s Impaired Waters list since 2002, due to excess nutrients such as nitrogen, which causes algal blooms and can render water unfit for drinking. Last year, the N.C. Environmental Management Commission (EMC) adopted a set of 13 rules focused on nutrient reduction measures that seek to restore Jordan Lake compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. Although the N.C. Rules Review Commission approved the measures, the General Assembly has the power to overrule commission decisions with legislation. House Bill 239, “Disapprove Jordan Lake Rules,” and an identical Senate version would reject the rules altogether; the proposed substitute bill would alter them significantly.