Bacteria closes Lake Wheeler to swimmers


While the lake remains open for fishing, swimmers will not be allowed into any of the recreation areas.

"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," Wake County Environmental Services Director Tommy Esqueda said.

Officials must sample water at the acceptable levels for two consecutive days before they can confirm the water is safe for swimmers.

Officials sampled 2419.2 colony forming units (cfu) per 100 milliliters. The acceptable levels of enterococci fall under 61 cfu per 100 milliliters.

"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 for individuals," Esqueda said.

Wake County routinely tests recreational lakes for bacteria.

When levels of enterococci exceed the standards set by the EPA, the areas must be closed to activities like swimming, which involve the possibility that your head will go underwater.

The county suggests calling the recreational lake facilities to find out if they are open for swimming.

Also, to prevent recreational water illness the county suggests washing hands with soap and water and thoroughly showering after swimming, tubing or skiing in recreational lakes.

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