Strike Two For N.C. On Jordan Cleanup

The state of North Carolina took strike two on cleaning up Jordan Lake when the Army Corps of Engineers rejected plans for chemical-based treatment of Jordan Lake. Strike one was the SolarBee follies in 2016.

The Corps said in a Nov. 9 letter to NC Dept. of Environmental Quality’s Water Re­sources Division that plans by SePro, a private Indiana-based company, to chemically treat the northern portion of the lake to kill algae “is not considered feasible” based on a proposal with a number of details and impacts that “are unknown or cannot be quantified.”

The Corps was responding to a 114-page proposal submitted in October by NCDEQ but developed by SePro which apparently was in line for a $1.3 million appropriation from the legislature for the project. The chemical cleanup issue was revealed in a Dec. 20 story (“Proposed secret chemical treatment of Jor­dan Lake could be dead in water”) by Lisa Sorg on ncpolicywatch.com.

The proposal would damage all five of the primary uses of the reservoir—fish and wild­life, drinking water, recreation, flood control and downstream water quality, according to the Corps. The proposal also called for a similar pilot project at Falls Lake, the Corps said.

The plan called for using algaecides and other chemicals, plus dumping as many as 350 tons of chemically treated clay fill into 300 acres of the Morgan Creek Arm of Jordan. That amount is only for one treatment and is similar in scale, the Corps said, to a bridge replacement or road widening project. The contractor would not remove the fill after the pilot program ended “because it would be too expensive,” according to the Corps.

The chemicals contained in the algaecide could harm aquatic life, and lanthanum, a soft metal compound of phosphorus-locking clay, “would likely accumulate in certain tissues of fish in the lake,” the Corps wrote. In some in­stances, the chemical harm is unknown, but state officials believe the number of fish would decrease, Sorg wrote, harming not only the wildlife that feed on them, but cutting into the recreational use of the reservoir.

Joel Bulkley