Eight toxic beach warnings issued for July 2-8

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From about Memorial Day through Labor Day, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conducts weekly monitoring of bacterial pollution in Iowa’s 39 state park beaches.

The DNR analyzes water samples from the beaches for certain one-celled microorganisms, known as indicator bacteria, that are visible only under a microscope. High levels of E. coli, a common indicator bacteria, indicate feces is in the water, most commonly in Iowa from livestock sources.

These indicator bacteria are commonly used by state environmental agencies and by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to determine the suitability of beaches for swimming-type uses.

Microcystin, a toxin produced by harmful blue-green algae blooms, has also been detected in Iowa’s water bodies.

Due to health risks, when microcystin or E. coli levels exceed certain standards/thresholds, the DNR posts swim advisories telling beach-goers to stay out of the water.

The Iowa DNR and the Iowa Environmental Council track these weekly beach monitoring  reports and swim advisories and compare advisory trends from year to year. To review recent trend data, visit the Iowa DNR website.

Five beach advisories were issued for Iowa beaches with E. coli-related contamination for the week of July 2-8.

  • Backbone Beach (Dundee, Delaware County)
  • Lake Darling Beach (Brighton, Washington County)
  • Lake Keomah Beach (Oskaloosa, Mahaska County)
  • Prairie Rose Beach (Harlan, Shelby County)
  • Union Grove Beach (Gladbrook, Tama County)

Three beach advisories were was issued for a microcystin-related contamination for the week of July 2-8:

  • Lake Darling Beach (Brighton, Washington County)
  • Lower Pine Lake Beach (Eldora, Hardin County)
  • Rock Creek Beach (Kellogg, Jasper County)

Note: There is currently a harmful algae bloom (HAB) at Saylorville Lake. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ testing earlier this week came in below advisory levels (8 mg/l), but the algae bloom is growing and anticipated to reach advisory levels in the coming days. See their announcement on Facebook. You are advised to be cautious when visiting Saylorville Lake. Here’s what to watch for when swimming this summer.

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