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JEFFERSON CITY – Swimming beaches at three 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.
Water samples drawn Monday from public beaches at Pomme de Terre, Harry S Truman and Wakonda state parks showed E. coli levels in excess of the department’s standard for state park beaches.
The public beach at Wakonda State Park will remain closed because of E. coli levels approximately three times higher than the department’s standard for a single sample. Results from Monday’s sample taken from the park’s public beach showed 727 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water.
Both Hermitage Beach at Pomme de Terre State Park and the Day Use Beach at Harry S Truman State Park have been closed previously this season because of E. coli. Monday’s sample from Hermitage Beach had 980.4 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water, while the Truman State Park Day Use Beach sample contained 920.8 colonies per 100 milliliters.
The Truman State Park Campground Beach and the Pittsburg Beach at Pomme de Terre State Park both met the department standard and will remain open for the weekend.
In order to provide a safer beach experience for park visitors, 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 three 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.
The 1,054-acre Wakonda State Park is located south of LaGrange in Lewis County. The 734-acre Pomme de Terre State Park, which has two separate locations along the 7,800-acre Pomme De Terre Lake, is located near the communities of Pittsburg and Hermitage in Hickory County. The 1,440-acre Harry S Truman State Park is located west of Warsaw in Benton County.
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 http://mostateparks.com/beaches/index.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 http://mostateparks.com/closings.htm
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.