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DWR to monitor White Lake this summer

By Erin Smith

The North Carolina Division of Water Resources is planning to monitor the waters of White Lake this summer. The town was contacted by DWR officials regarding plans the agency has to place a monitoring platform in the center of the lake which will be utilized to monitor the lake water.

“We have been given approval through a special use permit from the State Parks System to anchor the platform in the middle of the Lake,” wrote Brian Wrenn, Ecosystems Chief with the NC Division of Water Resources, in an email to the town.

According to information provided to the town by Wrenn, the platform will be painted yellow and will have reflective tape and a beacon on it as well as identifying information. The email sent to the town by DWR notes that the platform will be used to monitor the lake water for pH levels, dissolved oxygen levels, temperature, chlorophyll a, and phycocyanin (blue-green algae). It will also be used to monitor for specific conductivity.

Wrenn said DWR hopes to learn from the data gathered by the monitoring platform how quickly the algae colony recovers from the alum treatment. He added blue-green algae are considered a nuisance algae. The blue-green algae create heavy blooms and produce toxins which can affect the dissolved oxygen and pH levels of the lake.

“The alum treatment that ocurred at the lake was a short-term solution. Nothing has been done to reduce the nutrients coming into the lake. There is significant nutrient in-flow coming into the lake and we are trying to see how quickly the algae recover from the alum treatment,” said Wrenn.

DWR officials expect the platform to remain anchored in the lake through September.

Town officials recently completed a treatment of the lake water with alum to resolve issues with pH levels, phosphorus and algae blooms in the water. HAB Aquatics of Nebraska was contracted to apply the alum treatments at a cost of $522,352. HAB Aquatics completed the alum treatments on May 16th. Residents of the lake have since reported the waters are clearing.

The lake also experienced a fish kill earlier in the spring. Town officials attributed the fish kill to lower dissolved oxygen levels and extremely high pH levels in the water. Town officials have said the alum treatments did not contribute to the fish kill. Town staff have said they were receiving reports of dead fish prior to the start of the alum treatment process.

The town is also contracting with the Bald Head Island Conservancy for a study to determine where and how nutrients are entering the lake. The study is expected to cost the town about $78,000.

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