State environmental officials are overseeing the installation of special machines in Jordan Lake starting today.
SolarBees are water circulators intended to prevent algae from storm water runoff from forming in the lake. Installers are placing a total of 36 machines: 12 in the Haw River arm of the lake and 24 more in the Morgan Creek tributary.
Susan Massengale is a spokeswoman with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources. She says this step begins 18 months of water testing.
"We'll be collecting samples for chlorophyll-a, turbidity, nitrogen, phosphorus..as well as your typical physical data with water temperature, what's the dissolved oxygen like, pH levels and conductivity -- and this will give us a picture of water quality over time," Massengale says.
The General Assembly passed legislation in 2013 making the project possible. The results will be reported to lawmakers in October. Massengale says she knows there will be quite a bit of interest in the results.
"It is more or less a research project for us to see what happens when they're in the lake and see how we're doing," she says. "We've done some baseline monitoring and we'll be monitoring regularly through the period that they'll be in the water."
Water quality will be tested once a month for the next year and a half. Massengale says if the machines work as anticipated, oxygen levels in the lake water should improve. Tastes and odors that adversely affect drinking water should also be diminished.