Local News

High bacteria levels close Lake Wheeler

Posted September 11, 2009 1:48 p.m. EDT
Updated September 11, 2009 2:44 p.m. EDT

— 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.