The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is conducting a pilot project to determine if swimmers get sick from the water at state beaches with high bacteria levels. Janice Boekhoff is overseeing the project — and says they’ve been asking swimmers at three state beaches to report if they’ve been sick. She says we’ve never had a documented case of water-borne illness in Iowa and she says they’re wondering if there really are cases out there. She says the E-P-A sets the bacteria standards and those are based on “point sources”, such as a sewer pipe. Boekhoff says the E-P-A has not studied “non-point” sources, such as rainwater runoff from fields that might contain manure. Boekhoff says they believe the high-bacteria problems at Iowa beaches are caused mainly by those non-point sources, and the E-P-A concerns about illness may not be the standard to use. She says you can get sick from those non-point sources, but the level of illness may be much different than we think, and she says that’s what they’re trying to find out. Boekhoff says they’ve been asking for information from swimmers for three weekends, including this past Labor Day weekend. She says it’s just meant to be a small pilot project and they’re hoping from this project to get a full blown epidemiological study. The beaches in the pilot project are: Backbone State Park in Delaware County, Pleasant Creek in Linn County and Rock Creek in Jasper County.
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