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High bacteria levels close Lake Wheeler

Posted September 11, 2009

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— Wake County environmental officials closed the beach at Lake Wheeler Friday, citing tests that found elevated levels of bacteria in the water. The beach will remained closed until bacteria levels meet EPA standards for two straight days.

The county regularly tests the water for infection-causing bacteria including enterococci and E. coli. Authorities have been locked in a cycle of open-and-close for the beach since early August.

The beach closure bans any activity in which a person's head goes underwater, including kayaking, Sunfish sail boating and wind surfing lessons. The city always prohibits swimming at Lake Wheeler.

Fishing, water skiing, tubing and other boat rentals are still permitted.

Richard Costello, of the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department, blamed bird waste as the primary cause of the high bacteria levels.

Costello said frequent rain has also contributed to the problem as more runoff water is making its way into the lake.

To help cut down on excessive bacteria, park officials said they started removing bird waste from the beach instead of pushing it into the water. Officials said they are also looking for ways to move the birds' habitat so fewer of them will call the beach home.


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  • missparrothead Sep 14, 2009

    But water skiing and tubing are ok?????????? And how does that make sense? You fall in, get a gush of water up your nose and into your mouth. Oh yeah..

  • Made In USA Sep 11, 2009

    The "officials" can say what they want, but the real reason the bacteria levels are so high is because of the massive eight- plus million-gallon sewage spill that flooded Wheeler about three years ago.

  • speedy Sep 11, 2009

    "i.e. the rich folks who allow horrible fertilizers on their golf course-esque lawns to run down into the lake"

    I doubt the rich folks are spreading anything that don't come out of a plastic bag.

  • irishale Sep 11, 2009

    "Wow, fertilizer causes bacteria now!"

    speedy, depends on what you call 'fertilizer'. In the country, it doesn't come granulated in bags... the country version is something you really don't want to handle :) and YES, it does contain bateria!

    "Costello said frequent rain has also contributed to the problem as more runoff water is making its way into the lake."

    Hmm. If it were the geese causing the problem, then the added rainfall would help flush the lake. So which is it? the runoff? The geese? Both?

    And they want to use this for drinking water.

    As an aside note, everybody notice Wheeler mysteriously cleared up and reopened in time for the holiday weekend, but is closed again? Coincidence???

  • speedy Sep 11, 2009


    If your head is under water while skiing.......YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!

  • speedy Sep 11, 2009

    Wow, fertilizer causes bacteria now!

  • twc Sep 11, 2009

    I agree, Anna Marie. It should be closed until it is determined what is causing the pollution.

  • time4real Sep 11, 2009


  • time4real Sep 11, 2009

    give ME A BREAK! CLOSE THE LAKE you dim whitted people!

  • AMHall82 Sep 11, 2009

    OK, I realize that the level of bacteria changes *all* the time, but this is the upteenth time this summer...I think its time to just close the lake altogether.