News Release 540

Six state park swimming beaches remain open this weekend, meet E.coli standard

Volume 38-540 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Judd Slivka

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, SEPT. 15, 2010 – Six Missouri’s state park swimming beaches, which are still open for the season, have met the department’s standard for E. coli and will remain open this weekend, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

The beaches that met the standard and will remain open this weekend include those at Lake Wappapello, Lewis and Clark, Long Branch, St. Joe, Stockton and Mark Twain state parks.

Sample results taken Monday at Cuivre River State Park also met the department's standards but the beach will be closed as a precautionary measure. An accidental discharge from the sewage lagoon at the park's campground may impact the lake so park officials are closing the beach as a precaution.

These seven state park beaches will close for the season after this weekend. All other state park beaches have already closed for the season.

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.

Although none of the state park beaches sampled tested high for E. coli levels, 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.