Water Quality Posts

During the swimming season, May through October (LakeFest weekend), the City of Pine Lake will test the lake water weekly and post the results here. You may review the current and historical information by using the Get the Latest Information section in the side bar at right and the Water Quality category.

Here’s the latest report and information.

Lake Update

Spring 2015

According to Dr. James Chansler, new director of DeKalb County Watershed Management, the high fecal counts in the lake are most likely due to one or more factors: “leaky sewers, septic tank leachate, wild life,” and of course, storm water run-off. Here is an update on each possible pollution source:

  1. In January 2015, the DeKalb County Watershed Department was finally able to secure five sewer heads in the wetlands whose covers were not completely bolted down. (PL Public Works had drained the wetlands in preparation for this work.) These recent repairs have likely eliminated this potential pollution source, but we will continue to monitor. We have asked the DeKalb Watershed Department to reach out to the upstream apartments. Their private sewer system is prone to grease clogs, which cause overflowing into the Snapfinger watershed.
  2. According to data provided by the DeKalb County of Public Health, there are 38 active septic systems in Pine Lake, 6 of which are on Spruce (as of 2007 survey). It’s not known at this time if there is septic leaching into Snapfinger Creek. This could be investigated further if high e.coli counts persist.
  3. The Public Works Department discourages geese by keeping the water levels high, which reduces the type of shoreline that Canada Geese prefer. There is the possibility that homeowners with dogs, especially along Spruce Drive, contribute to the fecal levels if they do not “scoop the poop,” even in their own backyards.
  4. Downstream run-off will be a problem as long as upstream development continues without proper silt fencing and other precautions. Heavy rains increase the likelihood of pollutants and silt washing into the creek. The recent Permaculture Class held in Pine Lake proposed the use of a mushroom mycelium barrier that would filter the water before it enters the wetlands or the flume. This can be done at a modest cost, and Public Works is actively pursuing further research about this innovative solution, with the help of Shades of Green. Mushroom mycelium absorbs metals as well as bacteria and other pollutants. (These mushrooms are rendered inedible.)

Professional water testing began the second week of April, conducted by the Environmental Water Laboratory of The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension in Athens, at a cost of $40 per test.  Here are the early results; acceptable level is 235:

Location Data on 4/13/15 Data on 4/21 Data on 4/28
Upstream, before the wetlands 8,164 313 We will monitor these three sites on an occasional basis to confirm wetlands’ efficacy.
Bottom of wetlands 253 393
At eastern bridge 41 74
At swimming area (beach) 41 < 10 31


We will post a sign at the beach with the most recent test results from the beach area, and the acceptable level for swimming (235). The City will not close the beach; but will let each citizen make his or her own decision about whether or not to swim, at his or her own risk. 

Report prepared by Mayor deNobriga, April 28, 2015.