Greene Acres Lake reopens

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Kevyn and Amanda Flowers carry their 2-month-old daughter Kaliyah around Greene Acres Lake Wednesday while enjoying a warm and sunny day. They said fishing restrictions weren’t a concern but they wished the walking/jogging trail was wider.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

The lake at Greene Acres Park is open on a provisional release from the state.

“Fecal coliform levels are back within accepted limits,” Public Works Director Clint Bunch said Wednesday in a release from the city.

The lake had been closed since Feb. 27.

Swimming and wading is not allowed at the lake, a popular fishing area inside city limits.

Bunch said fishing is allowed, but on a “catch and release” basis under recommendation of the state environment department.

City Manager Joe Thomas said staff will check the water levels at least every other day for the next 30 days, while the lake is re-opened on a provisional status.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, fecal coliform is a bacteria associated with human or animal waste. The bacteria usually live in human or animal intestinal tracts, and their presence in drinking water is a strong indication of recent sewage or animal waste contamination.

“It’s not a health threat in itself,” said Heidi Krapfl, chief for the state’s environmental health epidemiology bureau. “What it does is when fecal coliform is high, there could be other potentially harmful bacteria.”

Glenn Saums, acting bureau chief of the state’s surface water quality bureau, said acceptable levels of fecal coliform vary by water use: Primary contact indicates the potential a person could ingest water, while secondary contact is associated with external contact (wading, fishing).

Saums said acceptable levels for primary contact are 410 coliform units per 100 ml for a single sample, or an average of 126 units per 100 ml for multiple tests.

Secondary contact is acceptable at less than 2,507 units per 100 ml or an average of 548 units per 100 ml over multiple tests.

Thomas said the most recent check of lake water tested below 30 units.

Thomas said the provisional basis will end in 30 days, provided the levels don’t get above 500 coliform units per 100 milliliters.

“It’s going to take something catastrophic to get it above that,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the “catch and release” status will also expire after 30 days. He said the state otherwise requires annual testing on the lake.