Sunny days with less rainfall have helped clear up some of the bacteria problems in the water at state park beaches. Mary Skopec oversees the water testing program for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. She says you should be careful about swimming if there is rain in the area of your beach.
“My advice is if we have a big rain — and again it depends on the timing — so, if we had a big rain for example on Friday, I would maybe give it a day or two to let the bacteria levels subside,” Skopec says.
She says some activity in the water after a rain may be okay. “The big risk is if you are ingesting or drinking that water,” she explains, “so, you can wade in the water. I maybe wouldn’t put my head all the way in and try not to ingest too much water. That tends to be our advice anyway, because we only test once or twice a week and we cannot guarantee that levels are safe all the time.”
You should pay close attention to your kids if they are near the water.”Make sure you wash their hands frequently, so they are not putting their hands in their mouth and getting the water in that way,” Skopec says.
While the sunny weather has cleared up some of the bacteria, the clear conditions can lead to problems with algae. “There are blue-green algae out in the state and certain types of these blue-green algae will produce a toxin. And the conditions that they like are the exact opposite of what washes bacteria into the beach area,” Skopec says. “That tends to happen when we have still, stagnant air and not very much rainfall.”
Skopec says if you see green scum on the water, avoid the algae. She says pets are also vulnerable to the blue-green algae and should be kept out of the algae scums.
Beaches with high levels of bacteria this week are: Backbone Lake, Denison Beach on Black Hawk Lake, Lake Geode and Lake Macbride. For more information and the results of the beach monitoring, go to: www.iowadnr.gov.