Marshburn for Mayor in ’19

The Eutrophication, and Transformation of White Lake

by Gray Marshburn, Candidate for Mayor

 

If the current situation at White Lake does not improve, the odds of completing next summer without the lake closing due to toxic conditions are slim. The tipping point of enrichment of our lake by unwanted nutrients from which there is no recovery, may be lurking. There are Eutrophication experts that argue that White Lake was close to reaching the enrichment tipping point in May 2017. Tens of thousands of pounds of fish died in this tiny lake creating the largest N.C. fish kill since record keeping commenced. Our state seems willing to gamble with our futures. Their plan, apparently, is to do exactly that next spring by denying more Alum. There have been no positive changes in White Lake’s precarious dilemma since 2013. Six years of knowing that nutrients are responsible for requiring Alum injections have changed nothing. It took four of the six years for officials to even warn us that we all adjoined a terminally ill lake. Any chance of achieving recovery was dependent upon preventing further decline of the lake water by actually doing something. Pursuing meaningful rejuvenation that would start true recovery was our only chance, but it is taking too long. Six-years of awareness, and the lake has not seen any improvements. Our town and state officials were cautioned and repeatedly warned of biological risk by North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) personnel. Researchers and experts agreed that only intervention to control unwanted nutrients could save this lake. Authorities at every level of government have been aware of the presence of Eutrophic conditions discovered in White Lake for almost six years. Somehow, you as a taxpayer, have only been aware of this phenomenon and its dangers for less than two years. This forty-seven-month lag in public awareness, this outright refusal to warn us; has allowed our lake to suffocate while we looked right at the water. The population of citizens, property owners and business owners, had no warning nor clue that any NCDENR, White Lake specific research had been conducted. We surely didn’t know that a horrifying discovery and diagnosis of plague was threatening everything associated with White Lake. These state agency officials work for us. They are paid by us, and this research was funded by spending N.C. tax dollars. I want back the four years of prime recovery time the state has stolen from us. Furthermore, to come to this stricken lake after this community spent 600K to 800K to avoid catastrophe and injure us deliberately, is plain wrong. The state insist on undoing the positive advantages of the Alum treatment by draining the lake. I refuse to allow this insane secrecy, this careless mishandling of our research data that is used to save Eutrophic bodies of water everywhere else, be the reason I lose my home and business. Our state mismanages this lake and is guilty of relentless destruction of natural shoreline for decades. The state has clearly demonstrated its inability to regulate this resource without destroying it. We can save our lake & ourselves through the courts.

 

Any community, subjected to the level of carelessness and irrational behavior by the state authorities that govern White Lake, would have already sought relief through the courts[GM1]  before now. The only reason the plight of White Lake has remained under the radar and out of the news, is because every state and local authority that should be sounding the alarm with me, is part of the problem. They are not sounding the alarm, not declaring foul play by state regulators, because they failed to sound the alarm themselves for almost four years. Had different individuals held these public offices at White Lake and our state agency’s top offices been staffed differently; this approaching disaster would have been publicized. Massive reparations, preparations, and assistance would have followed any news revealing that White Lake was sick and would die without aid.

 

Town of White Lake authorities received six NCDENR research reports, 2 per year for 3 years containing warnings of dangerous lake water. This exact data universally initiates recovery efforts. Our lake’s research results were shared exclusively with the Town of White Lake authorities. They perceived this data as privileged and illegally suppressed it. This data was never shared with the citizens of this state even though the citizens owned these reports in their entirety. The reports repeatedly diagnosed the lake as Eutrophic, a dangerous state of enrichment highly concentrated with the nutrients phosphorous and nitrogen. The North Carolina state agencies providing these reports failed to realize White Lake is not owned exclusively by the Town of White Lake government. Research conducted with taxpayer dollars belongs to the state, not the Mayor or commissioners and top staff of a single municipality.

 

Something is very wrong. The authorities regulating the lake, and those regulating the land surrounding it, did not share this disastrous news of catastrophe about to befall us. Multiple state agencies were made aware of this deadly diagnosis festering in this once beautiful lake. Surely, they understood the consequence of not providing time to prepare and losing every opportunity to counteract its progress early. Two hundred million dollars in real estate is at risk. Attorneys are best suited to remedy this fraudulent behavior. The idea of this community being treated so unfairly, cheated out of hope, languishing without representation is frightening.

 

This process of discovering Eutrophication, as the root of poor water quality, happens daily across continents in temperate climates. Nowhere is this deadly diagnosis for a lake being tested kept secret, until that lake in question becomes unrecoverable. This scenario is exactly what has happened to White Lake! How could State of North Carolina officials not manage to forward this research data any further than other officials? State officials thought our community had been informed. One would assume by state authorities informing town officials, the community would likewise be informed. They weren’t. State agency’s job was to warn the entire state, not a handful of locally elected municipal officials and key town employees. It is absurd these reports were not shared.

 

Careless delay, lying when asked about lake water conditions, failure to embrace researchers and experts have allowed for few counteractions. There’s been little to no nutrient abatement six years after diagnosis. White Lake has been rendered unrecoverable without emergency measures. Alum must be available next spring. The days of begging for it should end on election day. I have met with one of the most capable attorneys anywhere that handle scandals like this; he takes a very dim view of these actions.

 

From the Mayor’s office, I won’t plead, I’ll counterattack. Raleigh officials have blundered away any opportunity of conventional means of saving White Lake. They deliberately hid our lake research in cyberspace, then claimed transparency. These actions were fraudulent. This was government data, not theirs to casually misplace. This bazar and unethical, immoral behavior by our authorities should be addressed in court. There is little doubt that any judge would not seek to understand how so many state officials could be aware of this biological plague, years before state citizens. North Carolina citizens have been fleeced; our lake has been sacrificed!

 

From the Mayor’s office, with the support of our citizens and commissioners, and on behalf of this community; I intend to file a complaint against the State of North Carolina to secure Alum and substantial relief for endangering our community. They have negligently allowed White Lake to ruin while mishandling the data which would have saved it. I will file an additional lawsuit for supporting N.C. statute 106-678 against the citizens of this town pertaining to the restriction of cities’ ability to control fertilizers. Protecting its use, while prohibiting its control, after identifying it as poison is negligent. Our lawyers will approach our plight more aggressively realizing that we have been carelessly victimized, while every taxpayer statewide was fleeced. We must not allow this lake to be sacrificed to cover up blunder and mismanagement; wasting a state lake and endangering a community so negligently was unnecessary. Writing your congressperson won’t work. They do not care, White Lake has become a pariah, we need lawyers now. The state must make restitution for placing us at much higher risk. Coal ash, Gen-x, and now incompetency and failure to communicate join this list of destructors. Because the state refused to warn us, we have lost four precious years; we could have been using each valuable day to save our lake. This gross inaction and insane official silence demands justice. Why would any state agency provide warnings about swimming in a Eutrophic lake only online? Why not utilize free public newscast? How would we know to look online, no one told us? Only by seeking relief through the courts can we recover, the time for lawyers is now. Lawyers will put faces to the lives changed by this scandalous abandonment of responsibilities, and the fleecing of our state citizens.

 

This inexplicable refusal to publicize the deadly presence of Eutrophication in White Lake before the lake declined; prevented any public outcry to save it. The absence of stormwater planning, the abuse of the shoreline by allowing perpetual seawall construction, and the relentless flow of contamination is choking the life out of this lake. These North Carolina state agency officials and their years of insane secrecy and gross inaction has contributed to us watching our lake die in front of us. It is their job to protect these waters, forward data, and distribute information pertaining to the safety of our citizens. Their refusal to share such ominous data, immediately upon its arrival has been devastating. This unawareness has led to swimmers frequenting doctor’s offices with eye, ear and skin irritations. For our town officials,’ their fear of the news of Eutrophication, was mistakenly worse than the affliction itself. Our state agencies were undeniably negligent never warning us of a plague already upon us. This mishandling of the most vital information ever afforded this community was fraudulent, and we can easily prove that in court. They cannot defend their actions.

 

 

If publicized soon after testing, the original NCDENR study conclusions would have rallied us as a community, empowered us as a municipality, while uniting White Lake lovers everywhere. Unwavering support to save this lake would have led to recovery actions beginning five to six years earlier. If the public had realized our lake was in danger long ago, they would have lifted up White Lake, and protected it. White Lake would have never reached the point of surviving on Aluminum Sulfate. It is imperative we take legal actions now to salvage our lake, halting its decline. Rejuvenation has been blundered because officials would not warn us in time.

 

Town officials decided that the data itself was the threat instead of the certain disaster of which it foretold. Fear of upsetting tourism, and a blind resolve to blame blueberry farmers drove the secrecy responsible for the years lost preparing to face this biological threat. The state’s role as regulators of the water and shoreline, and as administrators of policy and enforcer of laws; forgot part of their job. Their role was to protect state citizens by keeping them safe from clear and present danger. Swimming was dangerous and state officials knew it yet said nothing. The lake was being consumed from within. Realizing this, no authorities ever responded.

 

Incompetence has risked our future. The term “recovery” suddenly requires explanation. Our community is cautioned about becoming too enthusiastic, overly optimistic and expecting too much in the way of improvements without a sole even trying to fix it.

 

Not sharing the NCDENR results of the research conducted on this lake with anyone besides a handful of municipal authorities determined to suppress them, is now haunting Bladen County. Years of conducting tax funded NCDENR research on White Lake without sharing it constitutes fleecing. These actions have caused unimaginable damage on White Lake and its ecosystem. To have never shared that research as the lake slowly became unmanageable was libelous. Failure to share this research has undeniably forfeited the single best chance to survive by beginning recovery years earlier. The state now denies any assistance for this lake or town. We deserve an appropriate legal response and can get this response from our future attorneys.

 

This community must develop comprehensive strategies to combat all nutrients at their origins. Faulty sewers require assessment and repair and will take time to control. The larger issues of contamination will impact recovery without doubt, so will the smaller ones. To address the major repairs and the more serious issues, while overlooking countless smaller problems, will not suffice. The community must become more involved in our recovery; they should be updated regularly and become much better informed.

 

The state is owner of this lake and must be involved in every aspect of recovery. The riff between the state and the town must close. The realization of the uniqueness and profound role that this resource plays in our society must guide our actions. If 2020 is not the year for massive change at White Lake, the opportunity to recover paradise is lost.

 

In an effort to better inform this community while helping to visualize the changes and overall White Lake conditions, we have purchased and operate a drone. Visit the website www.911savethelake.com to access recently captured photos and aerial videos. These are also available at www.luvthatlake.com. Vote for change on November 5th, 2019.  Please pray for White Lake.