Local Beaches No Longer Under E. Coli Advisory

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UPDATE: 2:17 p.m. Despite contrary information on Ohio’s beach monitoring website, a park manager for Strouds Run and Forked Run State Parks says neither are currently under an E. coli advisory.

Both are listed on the Ohio Department of Health’s website of beaches with elevated levels of E. coli, but Park Manager Curt Partee said that is no longer the case.

According to Partee, both lakes had one high E. coli reading on May 29, but more recent water testing show the lakes at acceptable levels. He said the reason for the high E. coli readings on May 29 are unknown, but said it could have been caused by “storm events.”

Advisories are issued in Ohio when E. coli levels pass 235 colonies per 100 milliliters of water, in accordance with federal standards. On May 29, Strouds tested at 250 colonies per 100 milliliters and Forked Run tested at 350.

According to the Ohio Department of Health’s BeachGuard website, the water at Dow Lake was tested on May 14 with less than 50 colonies per 100 milliliters. Forked Run tested at less than 50 colonies the following day.

Partee said the E. coli levels at both beaches have dipped back into similar ranges as was shown in the May 14 and 15 tests. According to the BeachGuard website, the water is tested every other week from May 20-Aug. 31.

When E. coli advisories are issued, the beaches remain open but children, elderly and those in poor health are advised not to swim in the water.

Two area beaches were put on the list of beaches across Ohio indicating contamination of E. coli. However, they will remain open and swimmers are advised to swim at their own risk.

Beaches at Strouds Run in Athens County and Forked Run in Meigs County were among 28 beaches in the state to be placed on an E. coli advisory after testing in May. However, an official at Strouds Run said that the lake is no longer on the advisory.

According to The Associated Press, E. coli is a type of bacteria commonly found in the intestines of humans and animals and can be caused by sewage overflows, geese and gull feces and failing home-septic systems. If ingested, the bacteria can result in diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps.

The Ohio Department of Health’s website says the advisories at Strouds Run and Forked Run were issued on May 29, and that monitoring will take place weekly through Aug. 31. It also says the cause of the contamination is unknown.

Advisories are issued in Ohio when E. coli levels pass 235 colonies per 100 milliliters of water, in accordance with federal standards. Of the list of beaches in excess of the acceptable level of E. coli, Strouds Run had the lowest level at 250 colonies per 100 milliliters. Forked Run tested at 350 colonies per 100 milliliters.

According to an email from Mike Rex, an employee at Strouds Run, the lake tested above the threshold on May 29 and signs were placed around the park notifying visitors. He wrote that the lake was tested again six days later and results were under the acceptable levels and thus signs were removed. However, some signs were recently seen at the beach’s restroom facilities.

Crystal Beach and Brooks Beach at Buckeye Lake in Fairfield County had some of the highest levels with 4,700 colonies and 2,300 colonies per 100 milliliters, respectively. It’s said that the reason for the high E. coli numbers at Buckeye Lake is due to agriculture runoff — animal manure.

Most of the beaches on the list are on Lake Erie where untreated human waste is the likely culprit.

Although there are 28 beaches in Ohio with E. coli contamination, none of the beaches are being closed to the public. However, it is advised that children, the elderly and those in ill health not swim in the contaminated lakes.

“As far as state beaches, we feel it’s more important to advise the public and let the public make the decision for themselves,” Mary Clifton, a recreational programs administrator at the state health department, told the Columbus Dispatch.

Strouds Run is the only public beach in Athens County. The closest public beaches in proximity to Athens County are at Burr Oak State Park in Morgan County and Lake Hope State Park in Vinton County.

With the city of Athens preparing to build a new pool for 2016, there was some concern that the pool would close early this season — leaving Athenians with even fewer swimming options later this summer. However, Andrew Chiki, assistant director of Athens’ Arts, Parks and Recreation Department, told The Messenger on Thursday that the pool will close on Sunday, Aug. 16 for the season. This date is on par with pool closures in prior years in Athens.

Park management for Forked Run could not be reached for comment prior to The Messenger’s news deadline.