On June 17, 2014, Wake County closed three recreational swimming areas at Falls Lake: Sandling Beach, Beaverdam Beach and Holly Point Beach, due to elevated levels of bacteria, based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.
The County routinely tests recreational lakes for bacteria, and when bacteria levels of E. coli 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 Kathryn Hobby, Wake County Environmental Services Registered Environmental Health Specialist. "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 E. coli should not exceed 235 colony forming units (cfu) per 100 milliliters. The County's test results found amounts ranging from 387.3 to greater than 2419.6 cfu.
The lake is not closed to fishing or boating activities outside of the designated swimming areas. People are reminded to always wash hands with soap and water, and thoroughly shower after swimming, tubing or skiing in area lakes to reduce chances of contracting a recreational water illness.
County staff suggests that people call their recreational lake facilities to find out if they are open to swimming or visit Wake County Recreational Waters or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on recreational water illnesses can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.