Our Drinking Water At Risk
Located in the Cape Fear River Basin, Jordan Lake is the water supply source for western Wake County residents, serving the communities of Cary, Apex and Morrisville, as well as the Research Triangle Park. Like Wake County, Chatham, Durham and Harnett Counties, which lie within the Cape Fear River Basin, are also experiencing dramatic growth. Chatham County, in which most of Jordan Lake situated, is one of the fastest growing counties in the state.
Population and economic growth in the Jordan Lake watershed threaten the ability of the lake to support its designated uses as a regional drinking water supply, recreational resource, and aquatic habitat due to increases in nutrient pollution resulting from that growth. Jordan Lake was added to the federal list of “impaired waters” in 2002, due to high levels of chlorophyll A and high alkalinity. This designation under the Clean Water Act requires the state Division of Water Resources to prepare a plan to restore the lake’s health by reducing pollution from contributing sources. Thus the state developed a cleanup plan, called the Jordan Lake rules, involving stakeholders in more than 30 meetings over three years to consider their concerns.
Unfortunately, since the rules were approved they have been delayed twice by the legislature, allowing municipalities more time to pollute without consequences. Most recently, in September of 2015 the General Assembly approved a measure that pushes back the deadline for cleanup for 6-9 years. While the rules are delayed, legislators have approved a pilot project for the lake, which uses Solarbee mixers to stir the water and reduce algae. These mixers may reduce the appearance of algae, but unfortunately do NOT remove pollution from our drinking water.
You can read more information about Jordan Lake here.
Jordan Lake in the News:
WakeUP 2014 Water Quality Series: Clean Water, More Valuable than Oil: State Actions Affecting Your Water:
WakeUP’s comments to the Jordan Lake Legislative Review Committee on April 16, 2014:
“Good clean water. We all need it and assume it will always be available.
In January 2014, my hometown in Charleston, West Virginia woke to a terrible odor coming from the water. 7500 gallons of crude MCHM had leaked into the Elk and Kanawha Rivers. Within hours, over 700 people developed health issues and a state of emergency was declared. Bottled water was provided, but for months West Virginians lived in fear and the economy came to a screeching halt.
Loose environmental guidelines, lack of inspections and a short-sighted mentality that this could never happen meant my hometown lived the nightmare of no clean water. I worry that one day we might wake up to a contaminated Jordan Lake, and our lives will no longer be the same. By not implementing the Jordan Lake clean water rules, our General Assembly is taking the short term view that everything is fine, but our water is already polluted.
The time is now. Future generations of Wake County Citizens are depending on us doing the right thing. We must take a long term view of smart growth and proactive measures to preserve our water supply in Wake County.” – Steve Rao