Photo by Danny Fulgencio

While more than a million gallons of sewage spilled into White Rock Creek in Plano appear to be contained due to low water levels, according to the North Texas Municipal Water District, East Dallas recreational groups downstream are forced to take precautions this weekend.  Some wonder if more can be done to keep White Rock Lake clean.

After the city of Dallas canceled water activities on the lake because of the pipe rupture, some neighbors had to cancel their stand-up paddle board adventure or trip to the dog launch. But for Dallas United Crew (DUC), the closure interrupts a key training period.

The rowing club plans to bring dozens of high school and adult rowers to the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta in St. Catharines, Ontario, in early August, so the next six weeks are a crucial training period. The competition is one of the largest regattas in the world and an important one for the club.

Team members are supposed to be training 10 times a week, getting out on the water every morning and three afternoons weekly. To err on the side of caution, DUC Program Director Steve Perry canceled all activities on the lake for the weekend. If the team can’t row on White Rock Lake Monday, he says members will train on land on rowing machines.

Perry says that on the East Coast, it is not uncommon for rowing to take place on dirty water, noting that the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro was held in water polluted with sewage. While Perry isn’t going to take any chances on White Rock Lake, he is eager to get back on the water.

“This is the prime time of using the lake,” he says. “People paid dues to be a member of the club. We have to figure it out really quick.”

Jeff Snoyer, who is on the White Rock Task Force and owns sailboats docked at the Corinthian Sailing Club, says the city notified his sailing club to stay off the water until further notice. He has lived near the lake for decades and says he has never heard of the lake being closed due to water quality.

Snoyer says he would like to see more than just press releases from the city saying what happened. “There is nothing about, ‘We are jumping into the action here,’ or ‘We will hold the contractor responsible,’ ” he says.

“This is like the Exxon-Valdez oil spill to me. Why can’t they stop it?”

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