CHEROKEE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – New technologies are keeping Lake Whelchel clean and preventing algae growth this summer.
“The water looks great actually,” said Eyal Harel, the CEO For BlueGreen Water Technologies. “It’s exactly what you would expect from a healthy lake with good biodiverse populations in the water.”
Lake Whelchel is Cherokee County’s main water source, but leaders said for years, they’ve struggled with algae blooms. The blooms can be toxic to humans and pets and affect the water’s taste and smell. This year, the water superintendent said treatments are keeping algae levels at bay.
“They kind of work in tandem,” said Water Superintendent Bryant Fleming.
Earlier this year, crews installed floating wetlands in hopes of keeping algae counts down.
“Instead of the algae taking up the nutrients and growing, the plants in the islands will actually take up the nutrients,” said Sarah White, a professor & nursery extension specialist from Clemson University, who helped with the floating wetland project on Lake Whelchel.
On Friday, crews also sprayed a BlueGreen Water Technologies algaecide treatment along the lake. It’s a maintenance treatment after an initial algaecide was sprayed in the spring.
“It’s got a coating over it that makes it float on the surface, so it doesn’t sink to the bottom, and it only stays in the location where the algae would be present,” said Fleming.
Fleming said algae blooms are a common problem. In previous years, increased algae counts have caused shutdowns on the lake.
“The Upstate, with the warmer weather, we have really battled it. But you know how warm it’s been this year; we have not seen the uptick that we’ve normally had,” said Fleming.
Fleming believes the new strategies are paying off.
“I think it’s really benefitted us because we’ve been able to share this information with other municipalities in the upstate that inquired us on what we’re doing differently,” said Fleming.
Leaders also believe these treatments could help prevent algae growth on other lakes and water sources too.
“We are having already discussions with state authorities to tackle bigger, broader harmful algal bloom episodes in the state of South Carolina,” said Harel.
Fleming said he’s hopeful these treatments could be a long-term solution to the algae problem. He also said these new treatments are cheaper and so far this year, they’ve spent about $45,000. He said last year, they spent about $200,000.