Legislative maneuver

by Jordan Green

Legislative maneuver


The NC House vote by a wide margin to approve legislation that weakens a key provision of the Jordan Lake Rules. The existing development rule requires cities in the Jordan Lake watershed to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff from the existing developments. The ratified bill has been presented to Gov. Beverly Perdue and awaits her signature to become law. “It’s something we feel we can live with,” said Allan Williams, director of water resources for the city of Greensboro. “There are some considerable costs associated with the original rule. I think the way it was originally written by the [Environmental Management Commission], there was enough vague language in there that the state could have put a real hurt financially on the area. Also, it’s very likely it wouldn’t have had nearly as significant an effect on nitrogen loads as expected. It gives us time to do some monitoring, so we don’t do something that wasn’t necessary.” The environmental community has also emerged from the political fray with a sense of accomplishment. “We feel strongly about cleaning up Jordan Lake,” said Drew Ball, lobbyist for the NC Sierra Club. “We understand that we have to find a workable solution. We feel good about House Bill 239…. I believe that the nutrient reduction targets will be met, but what this bill does is creates some flexibility and lengthens the timeline.” Williams said that under the revised existing development rule, the city will monitor nutrient runoff from existing developments until 2017. If the city is not in compliance by then, it could be required to install or retrofit new or existing storm-water detention ponds, but the new law prohibits condemnation of property for the purpose of installing ponds. “The main changes are lengthening the time and trigger points to start cleaning it up,” said Elaine Chiosso, executive director of the Haw River Assembly in Chatham County. “[There is] much more wiggle room for ‘let’s try this and see if it

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Nutrient runoff into Haw River tributaries such as South BuffaloCreek (above) from existing developments was at stake in recentlegislative negotiations over the Jordan Lake Rules. (photos by Jordan Green)