Official: Bacteria numbers in lake dropping

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Alfredo Macias of the city’s water and waste department secures netting Monday at Green Acres Lake to prevent people from fishing. The lake was closed to the public Saturday because of elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria and will remain closed until the levels drop to acceptable standards.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Sun and dilution are already going a long way toward killing bacteria that led to the Friday closure of Greene Acres Lake, city officials said.

Public Works and Interim Parks and Recreation Director Clint Bunch said Monday workers have been monitoring fecal coliform bacteria and testing the levels since the contamination was discovered.

“The numbers are already dropping off considerably, so I can see in the near future we’ll be opening it back up,” he said.

Testing will continue until levels drop to a point where the city is confident it is safe, he said.

Bunch said there is no threat to surrounding water systems or the city water as the bacteria is isolated to the lake.

The lake is part of the city’s drainage system, serving as a playa to prevent flooding by accepting water from the streets. The water is then channeled through a series of pipes to Ingram’s Lake behind the city’s landfill where it is stored, Bunch said.

City Engineer Justin Howalt said the city roped off the lake Friday after receiving a call that a sewer line clogged and waste overflowed from a nearby manhole cover.

Howalt said the lake was secured and testing was done immediately to measure bacteria levels in the water.

Ultraviolet rays kill fecal coliform bacteria, Howalt said. With exposure to sun, he said, bacteria in the lake will die in the same fashion used by the wastewater treatment plant, which moves wastewater through lagoons to expose bacteria to sunlight.

A popular fishing spot, Greene Acres Lake, located along 21st Street between Main and Mitchell streets, also offers picnic areas, a skate park, playground equipment and a walking trail.

The walking trail and park remain open.