News Release 180

Lake of the Ozarks testing finds three samples in 45 with elevated E. Coli levels

Volume 39-180 (For Immediate Release)
For more information: 573-751-1010

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, JUNE 2, 2011 – Water testing in 13 upper Lake of the Ozark coves Tuesday found three samples out of 45 with an E. coli level in excess of federal standards for public swimming beaches, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced today.

In the final year of a five-year program, the department is sampling water from coves in the upper Lake of the Ozarks from the Brown Bend area (Mile Marker 61) to the U.S. Highway 65 bridge (Mile Marker 90). The purpose of the program is to develop a five-year baseline that will assist in future studies of the lake’s health.

Each of the three samples exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's recommended maximum level for swimming areas of 235 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water were located in Benton County:

·Big Buffalo Creek Cove, 435.2 colonies per 100 milliliters of water.

·Cole Camp Creek Cove, 261.3 colonies per 100 milliliters of water.

·Turkey Creek Cove, 238.2 colonies per 100 milliliters of water.

In each case, four other samples taken in the same cove met the EPA standard.

Department staff will be returning to these coves to take follow-up samples. Inspectors from the department's Southwest Regional Office in Springfield will also begin inspections of permitted facilities within the coves' watersheds to determine if any of them are contributing to water quality issues.

All of the coves sampled Tuesday will be tested again monthly through October, including following the Independence Day and Labor Day weekends in July and September. By the end of the season, each cove will be sampled at least six times.

The state water quality standard for swimming and related whole body contact recreation is a geometric mean of 126 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water during the entire recreational season. A geometric mean is a statistical method used to analyze data collected over a period of time. Because the state standard requires data collected over the entire summer before a determination is made, the department reports monthly results as compared to EPA's single-sample standard of 235 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water.

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 can cause gastrointestinal illness. The testing process used in this study does not differentiate between strains.

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.

The sampling program is a partnership between the Department of Natural Resources, Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance and Ameren UE. Over the course of the program, the department will have collected sampling data from coves from Bagnell Dam to Truman Dam.

A link to a map of the areas being sampled is available on the department's website at Monitoring results will be posted to the map as they become available. A department fact sheet on E. coli and the Lake of the Ozarks is also available on the web at