The next GOP Jordan Lake boondoggle: Freshwater mussels

And you thought the SolarBees were a stupid idea:

A provision in the Senate budget unveiled yesterday earmarks $500 thousand from the state's Clean Water Management Trust to study whether freshwater mussels can be used to clean up the Jordan and Falls reservoirs and other polluted water bodies. An interim report on the study would be due in March 2017, and a final report due in May 2018.

The North Carolina Conservation Network says this new proposal and other budget provisions "largely eschew science-based management strategies in favor of unproven tactics."

Okay, we really do need to (re)introduce native bivalves like the Carolina Heelsplitter (Ow!) into rivers and lakes where they've died out. But as usual, Republicans have their science (if you can call it that) ass-backwards. The main reason those native mussels became endangered is the same reason we were forced to develop the Jordan Lake Rules in the first place:

Land clearing for development and agriculture has caused rivers and streams to become silted, choking native mussels. Runoff and chemicals in our waters poison mussels, while dams isolate mussel populations and change the natural flows of streams. As a result, many North Carolina streams have lost their native mussel populations.

Through efforts to reduce water pollution and protect waterways with forested buffers, many streams are now clean enough to support native mussel populations.

With that last sentence in mind, we go back to the Indy piece where Republicans once again show their ignorance:

Other budget provisions block attempts to restore water quality and prevent fish kills in Jordan and Falls Lake and in other water bodies across the state, including repealing wastewater treatment upgrades, controls on runoff from developments and farms, and protections for riparian buffers along state waterways.

Scientists regard vegetative buffers as the most cost-effective and fair means of controlling polluted runoff from farms and developments; the Senate budget would have them repealed and would schedule the repeal of state requirements for buffers along the Neuse River, the Tar-Pamlico River, the Catawba River riparian buffer rules on December 31, 2019— even if no alternative is in place.

So, the developments that might allow the mussels to survive (water treatment, riparian buffers) are being rolled back, but the mussels are still expected to not only survive, but to do a smashing job cleaning up the lakes. Which is actually consistent with the GOP's unemployment ideology: "Those mussels need a hand-up, not a hand-out! If they really want to improve their situation and prosper, they will roll up their sleeves and put their noses to the grindstone!" Not sure if they have sleeves or noses, but they better figure it out quickly.

Here's what has likely encouraged Republicans to attempt this, via their selective reasoning and confirmation bias:

Being filter feeders, the freshwater mussels themselves can help further clean streams by removing sediment, nutrients and harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, it may take hundreds of years for these creatures to naturally repopulate streams through a complex process that requires the movement of fish hosts.

Bolding mine, because apparently Republicans believe time is a construct, and Great Things can happen if you only have enough faith.



The reason I chose that picture

is to drive home the reality that mussels need fish hosts to propagate. The reason the bivalves have disappeared from many streams and rivers is because the fish disappeared first. Any efforts to reintroduce those fish to impaired waters will result in the same hopeless cycle of death.

Heelsplitters are in danger of extinction

Carolina heelsplitters require clean and unpolluted water to survive.
There (or were) in the United States nearly 300 species of freshwater bivalves, all of which are declining rapidly in numbers.
There is a coherent argument for restoring the ecosystems that support them so that they can help further clean the water.
As Rob Jordan wrote in the August 12, 2014 Stanford Report:

"We would be doing two things here – restoring ecosystems and cleaning water," said co-author Richard Luthy, the Silas H. Palmer Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

All of which is to say our illustrious GOP NCGA Senate members are proposing a study whose outcome is known. That is indeed dishonest and through the attendant delay it will do harm. Deception which results in injury to others is a fraud.