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Wake to hire lab to find source of lake contamination

Posted July 23, 2009

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— A Wake County environmental services official said Thursday that the county plans to hire an independent laboratory to determine the source of bacteria that keeps forcing beaches at Falls Lake to close.

Beaverdam and Sandling beaches off of N.C. Highway 50 have closed temporarily to swimmers three times this summer because of elevated levels of enterococci in the water.

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

Outside lab to find source of Falls Lake contamination Outside lab to find source of Falls Lake contamination

"We believe there is a technique where we can determine if it's from people, mammals, birds," Environmental Services Director Tommy Esqueda said. "Where we can kind of isolate that."

In each case this summer, the lakes have registered levels of bacteria higher than those the Environmental Protection Agency has set as acceptable – 60 colony forming units (cfu) per 100 millimeters.

Each time, the beach reopened days later after the bacteria levels fell within those standards. The most recent closure happened at Beaverdam Beach. It closed Tuesday after routine tests found bacteria levels to be more than 100 cfu, and reopened Thursday.

County officials urge beachgoers to practice good hygiene when using the beaches. That includes washing hands with soap and water, and thoroughly showering after swimming, tubing or skiing in Falls Lake.


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  • cocker_mom Jul 24, 2009

    Can there really be that many people defecating in the lake at these areas???? (I am assuming that's what BeenHere is saying / not saying) Perhaps the folks in Environmental services ought to take his advice - probably cheaper than a lab and a more immediate fix.

    But man, is that gross.

  • bigsky59 Jul 23, 2009

    This is a great idea, When will the lab results be made public?

  • LuvLivingInCary Jul 23, 2009

    you wish...probably someone dumping raw sewage off a pumping truck

  • BeenHereSince67 Jul 23, 2009

    The 'source' of the 'contamination' can be found by the Health Team if they invite the Wake County Sheriff's Dept along to stage a 287g raid on the facility anytime the Beaverdam area is open on the weekends. If the NC Wildlife officers come along and observe the boat dock area ("No Fishing From Docks" - the sign reads...) before the raid, they will be able to write numerous citations for people breaking the rules of the park. If any of you doubt what I'm saying here, just drive out for a pleasant time at "Your" State Park. The situation is the same at Sandling Beach, the difference is that Beaverdam is an impoundment that is 6 ft above full pool of the main body of Falls Lake. It only drains into the lake during very high water. Sandling IS directly on Falls Lake. The 2 areas both suffer from the same exact problem, but if I type what that problem is, it will not get posted.

  • CrewMax Jul 23, 2009

    Maybe some of them need to wash their hands and shower before they get in the lake.