GOV. PERDUE SIGNS FINAL PART OF JORDAN NUTRIENT RULES NCDENR DWQ News Release Contact: Jason Robinson, DWQ, NCDENR Date: Aug. 31, 2009
RALEIGH – Gov. Bev Perdue signed into law on Wednesday the last part of the legislation to complete passage of the Jordan Lake Nutrient Strategy – a set of rules designed to restore and maintain water quality and protect the lake by reducing levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in the reservoir.
Jordan Lake serves as a vital water supply and recreational area for communities in central North Carolina.
The strategy consists of 13 rules adopted by the Environmental Management Commission in May 2008. The regulations address a wide range of potential contributors of nitrogen and phosphorus including wastewater, stormwater from new and existing development, agriculture and commercial landscaping activities. A requirement for 50-foot waterside buffers throughout the watershed and options for offsetting nutrient loads are also included.
Eight of the rules were not changed and became effective Aug. 11. Four of the remaining rules – those regulating wastewater discharges, stormwater management for new development, buffer protection and stormwater management for state and federal development – were changed but also became effective Aug. 11. The rule requiring reductions in nutrient loading from existing development was replaced by legislation that became effective June 30.
Implementation dates for existing development requirements for local, state and federal entities, as well as the wastewater nitrogen compliance date, are set out in the new legislation. Otherwise, implementation timelines set out in each of the rules are now in effect.
The Jordan Lake watershed includes parts of 10 counties in the rapidly developing Triangle and Triad: Rockingham, Caswell, Guilford, Alamance, Orange, Chatham, Durham, Wake and small areas of Randolph and Forsyth. There are 26 municipalities in the watershed including Greensboro, Burlington, Haw River, Mebane, Chapel Hill and Durham.
Jordan Lake has been troubled by excessive nutrients since its impoundment in 1983. Nitrogen and phosphorus make their way to the lake from wastewater discharges, rainfall runoff from agriculture and stormwater runoff from new and existing development throughout the watershed. An abundance of nutrients drives excessive growth of microscopic algae that give the water a green, murky appearance. It also causes taste and odor problems in potable water and robs the water of oxygen. These impacts increase the costs associated with drinking water treatment, make the water unattractive for recreational uses and may cause fish kills.
The rules represent the first comprehensive program to deal with nutrient impacts from this area and will be implemented during the next few decades.
House Bill 239, passed by the NC House and Senate was signed into law by Governor Perdue on July 3, 2009. This bill addresses the date of compliance for wastewater treatment plants, and modified the Existing Development requirements. It does not address “new development rule” issues.
The “new” Existing Development requirements are considerably better than any previous draft and will occur in three stages.
"Stage 1" requirements are similar to NPDES Phase II requirements for local governments, such as public education, illicit discharge detection and mapping of stormwater systems.
“Stage 2” may be “triggered” in 2017 (after sewer treatment plant upgrades) if “nutrient related water quality standards are not being met,” which means local government must either meet the targets or it’s apparent that they will meet the targets with current activities. Stage 2 requirements for the Triad include implementing a program to achieve an 8% reduction in nitrogen and 5% reduction in phosphorus from existing development in developed lands within a given municipal limits or county boundary. The load must be calculated using the Tar-Pamlico Nutrient Export Calculation Worksheet or by a substantially similar method. We are reasonably sure Haw Sub-basin local governments will not have to implement Stage 2 measures since reductions due to wastewater treatment upgrades will and the nutrient trading allowances will result in achievement of the overall 8% reduction goal.
"Stage 3" requirements pertain to the Upper New Hope Arm only and will not affect the Piedmont Triad area.
Prior to the passage of Bill 239, under the Existing Development Rule, the cost to local governments in the Jordan Watershed to implement retrofit requirements throughout the entire Jordan Lake Watershed was estimated at $2-3 Billion. Costs include planning, land acquisition (public and private land, condemnation and removal of buildings, parking lots and structures, BMP design development, construction, and operation, inspections and maintenance of stormwater treatment structures.