Local News

Lake Wheeler beach closes due to bacteria

Posted August 4, 2009 6:29 p.m. EDT
Updated August 6, 2009 10:26 a.m. EDT

— Lake Wheeler in Raleigh is closed to recreational activities due to elevated levels of bacteria in the water.

Wake County Environmental Services closed Lake Wheeler Beach on Tuesday. Routine tests showed levels of enterococci, which can cause infections and lead to diarrhea, exceeded 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. At Beaverdam Beach, test found levels over 100 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 city already prohibits swimming at Lake Wheeler, but does normally allow fishing, water skiing, paddle boating and tubing.

The closure of the beach area does not restrict fishing on the lake, nor does it restrict waterskiing and tubing in the lake. The beach will be closed for primary contact activities such as kayaking, sunfish, sailboating and windsurfing.

Beaverdam, Falls Lake and Sandling beaches were closed for several days in July for the same reason. Beaverdam and Holly Point beaches were closed in June of 2008 after tests detected the bacteria.