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By Joy Warren

After years of correspondence, calls and testing, two state agencies met with Mayor Goldston Womble prior to Tuesday’s January meeting of the Town of White Lake Board of Commissioners.

Mayor Womble gave the standing room only crowd a concise overview from the last five years regarding the Town’s requests for assistance from state agencies. He made it clear that the Town has been very aggressive in seeking solutions to the water issues. Through five years of testing and studies there has been little help in determining the cause of the lake water discoloration or a solution for the rise in the PH level of the lake water, Womble said.

The Town started getting response from the state when it requested permission from NC Parks & Recreation, which are owners of the lake, to do some testing of Nano Bubble Technology to see if it would be a feasible solution to the water discoloration. The agency said permission would have to be give by NC Division of Water Resources. DWR said that permission would have to come from Parks & Recreation Division.

Womble contacted Brian Strong, who is chief of Planning and Natural Resources for NC Division of Parks and Recreation, and Jim Gregson, who is interim deputy director of the Division of Water Resources with the Department of Environmental Quality, who attended Tuesday’s meeting and heard from Town officials regarding the algae and discoloration of the lake water. Womble has requested an answer this week regarding permission for testing with the Nano Bubble Technology.

Scientists with the Division of Water Resources spoke about their studies and testing over the last five years. They reported that they saw no indication of any toxin-producing algae, again reiterating that the water is safe for swimming. Leigh Stevenson, Brian Wrenn, and Mark Vanderborgh all spoke to the main cause of the algae growth coming from an increase in nutrients from the shallow ground water. Womble indicated that the Bald Head Conservancy Team will be working with the Town on the issue. He also affirmed that Hydrilla has been found in the lake and that resources and treatment are being sought.

Womble assured the Board and the public that “we want our treasure protected and we need the help of the state.” He said the Town needs a short-term solution for the water discoloration and a long-term solution to determine how to keep the problem from reoccurring.

In administrative matters, the Board approved utility and tax releases; accounting agreement with Southern Software; appointed Womble as 2018/19 Budget Officer; and approved 2018/19 Budget Calendar/activities.

Womble announced that the Town has been selected for funding of $80,000 under the Rural Healthcare Program for the expansion of the Southeastern Health Medical Facility. In addition, the Town has been invited to submit a full proposal ($200,000) to the Golden Leaf Foundation Grant for the expansion of the facility.

The leaf and limb drop off site that the Town has been using is permanently closed. Town employees continue to pick up yard debris on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Debris will be hauled to the Bladen County Landfill at no cost to the Town. Public Works Director Tim Frush is waiting for a response from the State for possible sites for a vegetative landfill.

The municipal complex will be closed Monday, Jan. 15 in observance of the Martin Luther King Holiday. The on-call person will be available in case of water/sewer emergencies.