The start of fall signals the end of the program to post warnings at the state’s beaches for high bacteria levels. Janice Boekhoff of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources oversees the program that tests the waters at 36 state beaches. She says one of the changes in the program this year was adding Lake Geode in Henry County. She says Geode had high levels of bacteria this year when it hadn’t in the past, and she says the tests there have helped them learn some things about their testing. Boekhoff says they’re compiling all the information and hope to have a beach profiles on line for the various sites by next spring. She says a beach profile would give a general idea of the bacteria levels at the beach and information on the possible source of the bacteria. As an example, bacteria levels are higher in some lakes after rain. Boekhoff says they’ve been able to make some changes to improve water quality based on the testing. She says bacteria occurs naturally in the environment, but there are some things that cause it to occur more often. She says they’ve been able to install some retention ponds and other things in some areas to cut down the bacteria, and she says the preliminary results show success. Boekhoff says they’re midway through a “bacteria source tracking” program at Lake Darling that should give them more information. She says they started with lake Darling because it has a smaller watershed and they hope to expand the effort to larger lakes. The bacteria source tracking involves using D-N-A technology and anti-antibiotic technology to find the source of bacteria in the water. She says a review of the data shows there aren’t really many major concerns. She says our beaches are good 96-percent of the time. Boekhoff says they’ll continue testing the water through November, but won’t post signs warning of high bacteria levels since the swimming season is over. Weekly beach monitoring results are posted on the D-N-R’s website at:www.iowadnr.com.
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