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Floating technology in Lake Redman in York County prompts some people to call 9-1-1

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YORK TOWNSHIP, YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- Some people who drive by Lake Redman are noticing something unusual floating in the water. It's called Solarbees. Five of them are in the lake to improve water quality, but they're keeping 9-1-1 dispatchers busy.

York County emergency dispatchers have received a handful of calls on those mysterious floating objects in Lake Redman.

"Sometimes, a call will come across to a dispatcher, and it's typically someone, a passing motorist or a hiker. They'll see what appears to be a vehicle in water or overturned boat," said Mark Walters, York County Public Information Officer.

The floating objects some callers have reported are actually the SolarBees, which reduce algae growth in the water, but dispatchers have to take the reports seriously.

"A dispatcher is not taking a call, hearing: 'Lake Redman, what appears to be an overturned boat,' and being like, 'Oh, well, it's probably just a SolarBee, we don't need to care about it as much.' Our dispatchers are trained to handle every call with the utmost seriousness," added Walters.

Besides being a boating and fishing destination, Lake Redman supplies water to residents in the county. To maintain water quality, the York Water Company installed the SolarBees last fall, according to the company's president, Jeff Hines.

"The purpose of the SolarBees is to help circulate the water," said Hines.

During the summer, Hines says the water heats up which causes algae to grow.

"The SolarBees pull cooler water up from the bottom and spread it out on the surface and continuously move the water," explained Hines.

Since they're solar powered, they don't require electricity, and Hines says they actually save money in the long run by eliminating the need to treat the algae ridden water.

"We can treat it at the filter plant, but it's just an extra expense and hassle. So it's much better to just not have algae to start with," added Hines.

As to why the SolarBees are just now creating a buzz, Hines says, "A great question. Well, here's why: September, when we put them in, we lowered the lake about 8 feet to do work on the new pumping station we're building so people noticed the lake was down 8 feet but maybe not the SolarBees were out."

It's also summer, and more people take to the lake, especially since the water is back up and docks are out.

"When the lake was down, the docks were down, and you couldn't access the lake," said Hines.

Hines says the SolarBees will stay during the winter, adding another big project will wrap up at the lake in a month or so: the new pumping station will be complete.