Local News

Falls Lake beaches close again because of bacteria

Posted July 7, 2009
Updated July 10, 2009

— Two beaches at Raleigh's Falls Lake are off limits to swimmers because of elevated levels of bacteria in water that can cause infections and lead to diarrhea.

Wake County Environmental Services closed Beaverdam and Sandling beaches Tuesday after routine tests showed levels of enterococci that exceed standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Enterococci is typically found in the digestive tracts and feces of warm-blooded animals.

Acceptable levels of enterococci should not exceed 60 colony forming units (cfu) per 100 milliliters. The following amounts were found:

Beaverdam Beach East 88.2 cfu
Beaverdam Beach West 135.4 cfu
Sandling Beach North 72.8 cfu
Sandling Beach South 108.6 cfu

“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," 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."

The lake is still open to fishing, and other swimming areas at Falls Lake remain open.

Sandling Beach was also closed for several days in May for the same reason, and Beaverdam Beach was previously closed as recently as June 29 and had reopened July 2.


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  • capitalland Jul 8, 2009

    They don't test the water quality for swimming in the winter Gomer. It wouldn't make the news if there weren't people in the water swimming.

  • juchushu Jul 8, 2009

    I will never swim there again. I took my boyfriends son two weeks ago, we swam, two dead fish popped up floating on top of the water. We got out, and then that night my eye started bothering me, and the next morning it was swollen shut and green stuff was coming out of it. It reamined that way for two days. I will NEVER go back to that nasty place again. The only lake I will swim in is Kerr Lake.

  • tarheelskier Jul 8, 2009

    I would bet the bacteria comes from the higher numbers low class folks that use the lake as a bathroom in the summer. No other explanation makes sense. There are not that many residential areas nearby. The animals are always there, not just during the summer months.

  • capitalland Jul 8, 2009

    I would bet the bacteria is coming from the animals that live in and around the lake. Geese, gulls, deer, etc.

  • OpinionOnEverything Jul 8, 2009

    If your septic system is failing, then you need to UPGRADE your septic to current technology. I recently explored the area in rural eastern Durham county for a building site. The neighbors who had lived there for decades all said they had failures or problems with their "old" septic system. Some of them told me that the Health Dept recommended upgrades which would have solved the problem. But because it costs money, and the regulations and enforcement is weak, nobody I talked to ever considered upgrading. They're all waiting for the government to provide sewer service, or someone else to pay to fix their septic. Since these are rural residents, no city wants to annex them or extend service to so few residents until a major road or development is built.

    This leaves the individual property owner to take responsibility and FIX THEIR SEPTIC SYSTEMS! Officials need to get tough with enforcing codes and fining those who pollute.

  • cocker_mom Jul 8, 2009

    yeah - how about a root cause analysis? Leaky septic systems? Poorly managed "community sewer systems"? How about fixing it before it ruins our DRINKING WATER. If you can't swim in it - do ya really want to be drinking it?

    At what point do the levels become high enough that the purification process cannot adequately clean the water for drinking?

    There really NEEDS to be sewer service all around Falls lake to protect our drinking supply. Or - growth / development has to be limited to larger lots, fewer bedrooms, more testing for community water and sewer systems, etc. This is coming from SOMEWHERE - let's find out the cause. And if it's people swimming and eliminating in the water - well - then close the areas - that's amazingly gross.

    We simply cannot be contaminating the watershed (or the lake directly)

  • psm5000 Jul 8, 2009

    Wow. Newshound's comment closely parallels my opinion. To say any more would sound mean, but honestly, if anyone has recently visited any of our area lakes, one hardly observes cleanliness in either the facilities or visitors. I just don't go anymore. Wonder how many tax dollars are wasted on this lost cause???

  • Newshound Jul 8, 2009

    heavy storm run off can cause septic leaks surrounding the lakes. you also havediaper clad children and nasty people who think it is funny to release floaters while they swim. then there is the natural occuring bacteria in the lake.

    hey raleigh don't forget falls lake is where your water comes from lol.

  • commandokidd Jul 8, 2009


  • LovinMyLife Jul 8, 2009

    Well they closed the lake to swimming just a few days before the weekend and right before the weekend started they opened it back up. And if I'm not mistaken, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the lake closed a few times last summer as well?

    My suggestion, just don't swim there.