News Release 419

E. coli levels prompt closure of two additional state park beaches
Beaches at Finger Lakes, Cuivre River state parks join three others

Volume 38-419 (For immediate release)
Contact: Judd Slivka

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, JULY 22, 2010 – The public swimming beaches at Finger Lakes and Cuivre River state parks will join three others that will be closed this weekend due to E. coli levels higher than the standard set by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Sample results received today showed the swimming beaches at both parks with E. coli levels in excess of the department’s standard for state park beaches.

Finger Lakes State Park, located north of Columbia in Boone County, will be closed this weekend because of E. coli levels higher than the department’s standard for a single sample. Monday’s sample from Finger Lakes State Park Beach had 1,413.6 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water.   

The sample drawn Monday from Lake Lincoln Beach at Cuivre River State Park, northwest of St. Louis near Troy in Lincoln County, had 1,299.7 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 department announced Wednesday that three other state parks – Wakonda, Watkins Woolen Mill and Pomme de Terre (Hermitage Beach) – would be closed this weekend due to elevated E. coli levels.

The five 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.

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 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.