Blue-green algae found in North Little Rock lake

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – The shores of Willow Beach Lake are covered in blue green algae, and North Little Rock homeowners are concerned that the harmful blooms are too close for comfort.

"It may be naturally occurring, but I don't need it occurring in my backyard," said Gerald Paulton, who lives on Willow Beach Road in North Little Rock.

Paulton started to see the algae in late April but said the last few weeks have been the worst. He's concerned about the possible health risks for swimmers and boaters.

"[Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality] has come out and tested and says this is a problem because of excess nutrients being washed in from everywhere," Paulton said.

One of the main issues is ownership. Who is responsible for cleaning up the lake or working towards solving the problem?

"Anybody I ask and nobody can give me a piece of paper saying this is who the owner is, this is who the owners are," Paulton inquired. "They say one name or two names but like I say 'Who are all the owners so I can find out and contact them?'"

Nathan Hamilton, spokesperson for the city of North Little Rock, said Willow Beach Lake is privately owned. One of the largest landowners in the area is Floyd Fulkerson.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) visited the lake on July 7th, but didn't collect samples. They did tell Paulton the algae could be a result of incorrect fertilization from nearby residents and excessive geese near the lake.

"We don't know what the source of the algae is," said ADEQ Spokesperson Katherine Benenati. "But it is something that we see at this time of year because of the hotter weather."

Still, this wasn't the first complaint they had received about algae in the area.

Benenati said they tested for PH and water temperature, but it's up to the Health Department to determine whether or not it's toxic.

Arkansas Department of Health said, "We do not test that lake because it isn't a public swim area."

So Paulton and his neighbors are at a loss about what to do.

"I wish I knew," he said. "I don't think anybody can fix it. I think the biggest thing is let it run its course. I'd hate to try to sell my home right now on this one."

According to the ADEQ, coming in contact with algae blooms is a health risk for humans and animals.

They have advised the Willow Beach Lake Property Owners' Association and the City of North Little Rock to educate its residents on ways to prevent future blooms, like reducing the amount of fertilizers applied to yards and when to apply them.


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