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Elevated levels of bacteria found at Lake Wheeler boat launches

Posted September 3, 2010

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— Wake County officials are asking people to stay out of the water at Lake Wheeler's boat launching areas due to elevated levels of bacteria, based on Environmental Protection Agency standards, county officials announced Friday. The lake is not closed to fishing.

Storm water runoff and goose excrement are to blame for the elevated levels, according to Richard Costello, of the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department.

The county routinely tests recreational lakes for bacteria and when bacteria levels of enterococci exceed EPA standards, the areas are closed to “primary contact recreation,” which is swimming or any activity where your head may go underwater. The county samples the lakes weekly each summer.

“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," said Wake County Environmental Services Director Tommy Esqueda.

"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. After we observe two consecutive days of acceptable bacteria levels, the area will be reopened for recreation.”

Acceptable levels of enterococci should not exceed 61 colony forming units per 100 milliliters; 1,413 cfu were found.

Citizens are reminded to always wash hands with soap and water, and thoroughly shower after tubing or skiing in area lakes to reduce chances of contracting a recreational water illness.


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  • Dark_Horse Sep 3, 2010

    Hasnt this been happening alot at this lake?

  • rebecca7 Sep 3, 2010

    @ Lou... they revised the story. The prior article says "the recreational swimming areas are closed"... which, of course, there are none.

  • rebecca7 Sep 3, 2010

    And now the story is revised... go figure.

  • JQ Public Sep 3, 2010

    It's not just people using the lake as a bathroom. It's a combination of runoff, trash, garbage, human feces, geese, etc..... Also the spacific reasons why need to be listed. This is an on going health hazard and gov't/public officials are not addressing the issue.

  • raysson Sep 3, 2010

    You're right....it needs to be clean. I've seen people used the lake as a bathroom while others are swimming in it and don't even know it. Not to mention throwing all kinds of garbage in the water while you're not checking the signs that could make you really sick. Jordan Lake is even worst.

  • raysson Sep 3, 2010

    From the Justin T comment: "Its not due to runoff..its because parents are letting their kids play in the water with dirty diapers."
    Justin is dead on. Its not the kids that don't know. I've been out to Lake Wheeler numerous times and I seen not only kids swim and play in that nasty water with dirty diapers,but I've seen adults throw trash and do their business right there in the lake while you are taking a swim and you can't figure out why you're feeling sick and nauseated. Jordan Lake is even worst with people doing whatever in that nasty water while swimming and their throwing up right there on the lake.

  • twc Sep 3, 2010

    For crying out loud, clean it or close it!

  • Ladybug Sep 3, 2010

    I think whoever is issuing these bands needs to let the public know why this is happening. Something is definitely wrong for this to keep happening every week or so.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Sep 3, 2010

    Justin T.: "Its not due to runoff... its because parents are letting their kids play in the water with dirty diapers."

    No way dirty diapers or geese can release enough toxins in a LARGE lake to cause the contaminent levels to spike. It would have to be leakage from sewer lines to put enough waste in the lake to affect levels.

  • Adelinthe Sep 3, 2010

    This is absurd!!!

    They just need to close that lake altogether to activities altogether, or find some way to keep Cary's sewage in Cary.

    God bless.