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By Erin Smith

The town of White Lake has completed the alum treatment of the lake and town officials say they are pleased with the results, thus far. As the town gears up for the 40th annual White Lake Water Festival, the water is beginning to become clearer according to some residents.

White Lake Mayor Goldston Womble said, ”We are very pleased with the results of that treatment.”

The alum treatment process officially concluded on Wednesday evening. The town opted earlier this year to perform the alum treatment at a cost of $525,000. The treatment process lasted for ten days. A few treatment days were lost due to a fish kill which saw thousands of fish die as a result of extremely high ph levels not the alum treatment, according to State officials.

“It was an unfortunate situation. When we got here the lake was out of balance and fish were dying,” said John Holz, owner of HAB Aquatics.

Once State officials determined the fish kill was not the result of the alum treatment, the process was allowed to resume.

“Our design with that plan ( the alum treatment) is to reduce the phosphorus level in the lake and help improve the water clarity,” said Womble.

He added the town has been guided by State officials through the various things which have been put in place in order to allow the town to treat the lake with the alum.

“We want everyone to know the product is entirely safe. It used for treatment of drinking water in many major cities and we want everyone to understand it is perfectly safe for treatment of the lake,” said Womble.

The lake was suffering from dangerously high ph levels due to high levels of phosphorus which were causing algae blooms, according to studies performed on the lake. The alum treatment is designed to combat that.

“Lakes that have a lot of phosphorus, have a lot of algae,” said Holz,

He explained the phosphorus acts as a food source for the algae. Holz said the alum bonds with the phosphorus in the water and sinks it to the bottom of the lake. He explained by removing the phosphorus, you remove the food source for the algae.

Holz said the alum treatment basically reset the lake to within its normal parameters, but the duration of the treatment will depend on how quickly the phosphorus continues to enter the lake.

HAB Aquatics has performed similar treatment on 72 lakes in the United States. Holz has a PhD in lake science and is former professor at the University of Nebraska.

Dr. Diane Lauritsen, of Mount Pleasant Waterworks, has been assisting town officials  with monitoring the lake and introduced town officials to Holz.

She said the highest phosphorus values are being found in the middle of the lake. Lauritsen said the lake has more nutrients in it now than there was in the fall. She said the town is studying the watershed around the lake to determine what practices can be changed to continue to improve the quality of the lake.

The town is now partnering with the Bald Head Island Conservancy to perform a study to try to determine how the phosphorus is entering the lake. The cost of the study is $78,000.