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White Lake town staff hard at work resolving water quality issue

By: Erin Smith

White Lake has been a prime destination for vacationers for many years. The crystal clear waters tempt many to dip their toes in for a swim. However, at a recent town board meeting a topic of discussion was discoloration of the lake.

“The problem is figuring out what is causing the discoloration,” said Mayor Goldston Womble.

He explained that it is believed the discoloration began to take place in 2013 when the area received heavy rain during the summer. “We don’t know if it caused it. We do know the Ph level in the lake increased about that time,” said Womble.

He said the lake is generally acidic and there is believed to be some cause and effect in the increased Ph level and the color of the water. Womble said the lake appears to have more algae growing at the higher Ph level than when the Ph level was lower.

Womble said the State of North Carolina’s Division of Water Quality and other state agencies have visited the lake and tested the water and pronounced the lake to be healthy ecologically and safe for swimming. He said town staff pointed out, however, that while the lake is healthy, there are also concerns about the appearance.

“Nobody has been able to pinpoint with specificity what is causing the increased Ph level and causing the discoloration,” said Womble. He said the town has reached out to Rep. William Brisson and NC Sen. Bill Rabon requesting additional assistance with the matter.

Womble said one possibility for the discoloration is in-flow coming into the lake from Lake Road which could possibly be introducing phosphorus or fertilizer. The town staff has contacted one landowner and received permission to close off a ditch allowing in-flow into the lake according to Womble.

“We are hopeful that will help,” said Womble. He said staff are continuing to monitor the Ph levels and the in-flow issue.

Womble said before the town can remedy the color of the lake, they must learn the cause of the problem. He said town staff has received a proposal from a private company for testing which will be geared towards learning the source of the discoloration. The proposal will be presented to the town board for their review at a later date, said Womble.

He said as of right now, there are no clear answers as to the source of the discoloration, but town staff continue to monitor the lake’s Ph level and color.

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