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By Joy Warren

The Town of White Lake met for its regular Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday evening. Much of the business was routine until time for the Open Forum Session where citizens can speak for three minutes.

Several citizens (full-time and part-time residents) questioned the Commissioners regarding issues with the lake — asking about the next steps, timetable for scheduled workshops, lack of communication, and lack of understanding regarding what exactly has changed in the last four to five years with the lake.

As he has in almost every commissioner’s meeting since 2017, Mayor Goldston Womble relayed an overview of the Town’s focus for the water issues that started in 2013 when it was first noted the green discoloration in the lake water. State officials were continuously contacted for help with the state-owned lake, but due to a lack of resources and/or lack of expertise, no help was received.

In 2017, an “algae explosion” occurred like nothing experienced before. After testing, it was determined that it was not just algae but Cyanobacteria, which can make toxins, called cyanotoxins. Fortunately, no toxins were found in the lake water, but the town got permission from the state and paid for an alum treatment which killed the Cyanobacteria as well as cleared the water.

Womble said the alum treatment was the first of two goals for the town. The first being the immediate solution for lowering the pH. The second is a more long-term goal — to ensure the health of the lake. Womble said it’s an on-going process and not an overnight fix.

According to Dr. Diane Lauritsen, one of the experts hired by the town to assist with monitoring the lake, “people need to understand the lake has changed due to the changing dynamics such as the pH levels. The pH levels of rainwater are higher now, which is not something that we can change. It is smart to evaluate what our options may be and come up with a Lake Management Plan.”

Dr. Lauritsen and the town are working on the next public workshop by contacting experts, educational agencies, state agencies and local stakeholders interested in being involved to work toward solutions. The workshop date and time will be announced. Reports, as well as a vast array of data collected over the years, are available to the public at the Town Municipal Complex.

In other business, Board approved Utility and Tax releases and Tax refunds; adopted the 2019 Charge to Collect 2019 Ad Valorem Taxes; increased ACH Processing Limits to $75,000; approved Phase II Multi-Use Path Project Management contract; and tabled a resolution concerning the White Lake Elevation Adjustment by N.C. Department of State Parks and Recreation.

The White Lake Fire Department will conduct mandatory water shuttle training on Sept. 9, 11, 16 and 18.
Some issues may arise during the training such as a temporary drop in water pressure or a temporary change in the color of the water. Although unpleasant, it is temporary and not harmful. If you have discolored water, you should let your cold water faucet run until the water appears clear. If the problem persists, contact the Public Works Water and Sewer Department.

The Municipal Complex and Post Office will be closed Monday, Sept. 2 for the Labor Day holiday. The Public Works Department will have an on-call person available in case of a water/sewer emergency.