Local News

Bacteria forces closure of Lake Wheeler beach

Posted August 18, 2010

— Wake County on Wednesday closed recreational swimming areas at Lake Wheeler beach because of elevated levels of bacteria.

The county routinely tests recreational lakes for bacteria, and when levels of enterococci bacteria exceed Environmental Protection Agency standards, the area is closed to any activity where someone's head might go underwater, officials said.

Acceptable levels of enterococci should not exceed 61 colony forming units (cfu) per 100 milliliters; 488.4 cfu were found, officials said.

“Our goal is to eliminate the potential for citizens to come into contact with excessive levels of bacteria, as that could result in creating illness conditions for individuals," Wake County Environmental Services Director Tommy Esqueda said in a statement. "We will continue to collect water samples on a daily basis for the area and reopen the lake for swimming as soon as the bacteria levels fall below the EPA-established standards.“

Lake Wheeler isn't closed to fishing.


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  • live_the_truth Aug 19, 2010

    The levels are high, but where did they pull the water sample from? Do they test right at the shallow area where all the animals hang out - where it's really hot and slimy and disgusting? Or, do they take a boat out and check the levels in deeper water?

    Another thought - are the houses all around the lake on public sewer lines, or private septic tanks? That could be getting into the water. I don't know what the regulations are for that, but it would seem like someone could find out and take care of this problem. And yes, it does happen every year.

  • ORMA Aug 19, 2010

    Is anyone really surprised by this? It happens multiple times every year. Maybe someday people will open their eyes and see the problems that pollution can truly cause.

  • Lou Epstien Aug 19, 2010

    There are not enough ducks and geese out there for the levels to be as high as they are......try again.
    Now, they are a nuisance, can be aggressive, and are a nasty disgusting beasts.
    But there would have to be 1000’s of them out there for the levels they are talking about.

  • tamiam Aug 19, 2010

    My daughter works there and has had geese chase her when she was trying to get to the boats, or clean up trash. It's ridiculous.

    It's not a cesspool, it's a beautiful park. And yes, the water feature is gorgeous. My husband built it. :-)

  • rebecca7 Aug 19, 2010

    I worked at Lake Wheeler before myself... they have GREAT people working there. Too bad they don't get to proof read the stories! ;)

  • exquisite1 Aug 19, 2010

    Thank you live_the_truth! I had the opportunity to work with the staff at Lake Wheeler for a couple of weeks, earlier this summer, and they are some of the friendliest people I've met!

    And as for the ducks and geese, yes, those things DO need to be kept away from public areas. Some of them are actually quite aggressive and will attempt to run PEOPLE out of their area.

  • Peace Love and Cold Meds Aug 19, 2010

    oh what a joke this has become. close this cess pool down for good and quit boring us with this same story every 2 weeks.

  • rebecca7 Aug 19, 2010

    Ditto live_the_truth. This is the SECOND time this story has been wrong, but we can't really blame WRAL. The City of Raleigh's website keeps publishing this story and saying that the swimming areas are closed. Good example of left hand not knowing what right hand is doing! Government... sheesh. Even the people who RUN this lake don't know what's allowed and not allowed!!!

  • live_the_truth Aug 19, 2010

    Lake Wheeler does not allow swimming, first of all. Second of all, this "bacteria" is from all the ducks and geese that hang out in the lake. People cannot enjoy this park the way it's meant to be enjoyed because of the goose droppings all over the place. They make a mess everywhere! Someone needs to do something to get those birds away from the public areas - like the kids playground and picnic tables!!

    On a side note - the folks who work at the park are GREAT! They do everything they can to keep the park clean and enjoyable. The staff is very friendly and helpful. If you haven't gone to Lake Wheeler Park in a while, go check out that water fountain they have by the main building - it is absolutely beautiful!

  • NotAgain Aug 19, 2010

    It is probably the result of fewer and fewer folks actually going outside to do more than get into their cars. Folks dont understand how the 'outside parts' of our world works, so they dont try to help keep it clean. However, they know way way too much about the operation and health of their cell phones.