Wake County has closed recreational skiing and tubing areas at Lake Wheeler, due to elevated levels of bacteria, based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. Other primary contact activities that take place at the beach area, such as kayaking, sunfish sail boating and canoeing, may continue, as these activities do not typically involve body submersion.
The County routinely tests recreational lakes for bacteria and when bacteria levels of enterococci exceed EPA standards, the area is closed to "primary contact recreation," which is swimming or any activity where your head may go underwater. The County samples the lakes weekly each summer.
"We want to ensure people don't come in contact with high levels of bacteria that could result in illness," said Wake County Environmental Services Registered Environmental Health Specialist Kathryn Hobby. "We will continue to collect water samples in order to reopen the beaches for swimming as soon as the bacteria levels within the EPA-established standards. After we observe two consecutive days of acceptable bacteria levels, the areas will be reopened for swimming."
Acceptable levels of enterococci should not exceed 61 colony forming units (cfu) per 100 milliliters; 116.4 cfu per 100 milliliters were found at Lake Wheeler.
County staff suggests that people call their recreational lake facilities to find out if they are open to swimming or visit Wake's Recreational Waters site or email email@example.com. People are also reminded to always wash hands with soap and water, and thoroughly shower after contact with natural bodies of water to reduce chances of contracting a recreational water illness.
View more information on recreational water illnesses on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site.