This weekend, individuals engaging in boating, swimming, hiking, and bringing along their pets are advised to steer clear of two specific areas in Lake Norman. The caution stems from a recent raw sewage spill and the presence of a toxic weed that resulted in the demise of at least four dogs in lakes across North Carolina and Georgia last year.
Lincoln County Health Director Lena Jones, in a water advisory alert on Friday at 5 p.m., disclosed that approximately 200 gallons of untreated sewage may have entered the lake in the 2300 block of Smith Harbour Drive in Denver, located off N.C. 16 on the lake’s western shores. The sewage spill occurred due to a malfunction in a sewage lift station, leading to potential contamination with fecal coliform bacteria in the affected area.
Jones urged residents and lake users to refrain from swimming or making bodily contact in that region. No-swimming signs were slated to be installed, and a notification message was dispatched to nearby properties. Workers at a county treatment plant serving the area are currently conducting water samples, and the county Public Works Department will be notified when it is deemed safe to resume swimming and boating.
Meanwhile, residents in the Cornelius area expressed concerns about the proliferation of toxic blue-green algae. The algae has taken hold of approximately 10 acres of the lake. A community meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. at The Peninsula Club in Cornelius. Residents are seeking state assistance to address the algae issue but, in the absence of immediate action, are collecting donations to hire someone for the removal.
In a related note, a Mecklenburg County official emphasized the potential risks associated with algae blooms. While most algae blooms are harmless, distinguishing dangerous ones by sight alone is challenging. Rusty Rozzelle, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services’ water quality program manager, advised against swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing, Jet-Skiing, water-skiing, or wading through any water with algae. He particularly highlighted the higher risk for pets and children and urged keeping them away from water that appears discolored or scummy.