State installing floating platform to monitor White Lake water quality
WHITE LAKE, NC (WWAY) — As White Lake works to figure out a long-term solution to recent algal blooms, the NC Division of Water Resources has been granted a Special Use Permit to place a floating water testing platform in the middle of the lake.
A spokesperson for the Town of White Lake said the platform will sit above the water and is about the size of a small raft. The monitoring equipment attached to the platform will provide a nearly continuous assessment of dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, conductivity, and abundance of algae and cyanobacteria.
This announcement comes on the heels of a massive fish kill that coincided with contractors applying alum to the lake, to help reduce the algae blooms.
The state ordered the town to halt treatment while they investigated. The state determined it did not appear the fish kills were due to the alum treatments, but could be the result of the ongoing algal bloom. Later, the town was able to continue with the treatment, which wrapped up before the White Lake Water Festival.
The floating platform, which is scheduled to be installed as early as Thursday, will be painted bright yellow, has reflective tape, and a mounted signal beacon. Signs are being posted and the Town has already informed residents about the platform using its “One Call” system.
“We welcome this additional source of information,” said Mayor Goldston Womble. “The state and the Town have the same goals: we want to understand, then resolve, the issues with the ecosystem that are leading to the algal blooms in our lake.”
The platform will remain in place until the end of September.
White Lake is a natural, spring and rainwater-fed lake approximately 1,200 acres in size. The town said because the lake water lacks buffering to protect it from the impacts of nutrients, it has experienced the rapid and sustained growth of algae, including algal blooms, in recent years.
Algal blooms occur when nutrient levels in a body of water are too high, and they can lead to fish kills.
The town says since the alum treatment, there has not been any additional fish mortality, pH levels have dropped, and water clarity has greatly improved.
The town is also continuing its partnerships with scientists and environmental leaders to find both short and long-term solutions to the situation.
The town is working with the Bald Head Island Conservancy to understand the causes of the algae blooms and to assess the lake’s groundwater resource.