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Town put chemical into popular NC fishing lake. Then the fish began to die.

State officials say an algae bloom, not the chemical used to treat it, killed fish at White Lake, a popular eastern North Carolina fishing lake.
State officials say an algae bloom, not the chemical used to treat it, killed fish at White Lake, a popular eastern North Carolina fishing lake. Screen grab of WECT video

Fish are dying at a popular eastern North Carolina fishing lake where the town put a chemical in the water to kill algae.

Scores of fish in White Lake have died after its namesake town began treating the algae last Wednesday, Wilmington NBC-TV affiliate WECT reported. The algae discolored the water.

People like to catch bass, perch and pickerel in the 1,092-acre natural lake, according to Carolina Sportsman magazine.

The town received state approval April 11 to use a low-dose aluminum sulfate treatment to improve water clarity and reduce the pH level in the lake, Mayor Goldston Womble Jr. said in an April 20 letter on the town's website.

The treatment was expected to finish Tuesday, according to Wilmington ABC-CBS-TV affiliate WWAY. But the state ordered the treatment stopped on Monday, WECT reported.

"We have been advised on numerous occasions by state officials that there are no health or safety concerns in regard to the algae which are causing the discoloration of the lake water," Womble said in his April 20 letter, "but we fully understand that the clarity of the lake greatly affects the perception of people in regard to its use."

Residents notified the state when they saw fish turning up dead over the weekend, and the state took water samples Monday morning, WECT reported. Dead fish were taken to a state lab in Raleigh to see whether the deaths are linked to the chemical, a state official told the station.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067; @jmarusak

A video posted on YouTube claims to have captured a large mutant fish floating in a Gaston County lake last week. The video has set off a debate as to what the creature might be, if not a fish.

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