News Release 350

Swimming beaches at six state parks closed for weekend

Volume 38-350 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Judd Slivka

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, JUNE 16, 2010 – Swimming beaches at five Missouri state parks will be closed this weekend due to E. coli levels higher than the standard set by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  A sixth beach is closed due to high water but also exceeded the standard for E. coli.

Water samples drawn Monday from the public beaches at Mark Twain, Wakonda, Crowder, Cuivre River, St. Joe and Thousand Hills state parks showed E. coli levels in excess of the department’s standard for state park beaches.

Mark Twain State Park Beach was already closed because of high water levels and will remain closed this weekend. In addition, Monday’s high sample from the public beach at Mark Twain State Park was greater than 2,419.6 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water.   

The swimming beach at Wakonda State Park, which was also closed last week due to elevated E. coli levels, will remain closed this week. The high water sample collected from Wakonda State Park had 1,986.3 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water.

Four other parks had E. coli levels considerably lower than Mark Twain and Wakonda state parks, but were still in excess of the department standard (each listed as E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water):

In order to provide a safer beach experience, the Department of Natural Resources will close beaches at state parks if a single sample is above 235 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water, which is also the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s single-sample guideline for a swimming beach.

The six closed beaches have been posted with signs notifying visitors of the closure and will remain closed until E. coli levels fall below the department standard. Pim Lake Beach at St. Joe State Park beach met the department standard and remains open.

No other state park beaches tested high for E. coli levels; however, bacterial levels often rise after heavy rains and lake users should use their judgment when swimming after heavy rains.

The latest information on beach closings at state parks is available online at /asp/spbeaches/state-park-beach-status.asp. Additional beaches may be closed for other reasons, such as high water levels or safety and management issues. Information about all temporary closings at state parks is available online at /asp/spbeaches/state-park-beach-status.asp.

The 2,775-acre Mark Twain State Park is located in Monroe County in northeast Missouri along the 18,000-acre Mark Twain Lake. The 1,054-acre Wakonda State Park is located south of LaGrange in Lewis County. Cuivre River State Park, located northwest of St. Louis in Lincoln County, has 6,394 acres. The 1912-acre Crowder State Park is located west of Trenton in Grundy County. St. Joseph and Thousand Hills state parks are located in St. Francois and Adair counties respectively.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources, through its Division of State Parks, manages 85 state parks and historic sites throughout the state, including 15 with swimming beaches. Water samples are taken weekly during the recreational swimming season to help ensure a safe public swimming area.

E. coli is a bacteria found in the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals, including humans.  While most strains of E. coli are harmless, some strains can cause gastrointestinal illness. 

These bacteria and other pathogens can reach lake water from many different sources, both human and animal.  For some people, such as children, elderly or those with weakened immune systems, even low levels of these bacteria may cause illness.