The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has started its summer water quality monitoring program at state beaches as they open for the summer.
Workers take water samples to test for bacteria and toxins. If levels are too high, beaches are posted with advisories against swimming. The DNR’s Roger Bruner says he hasn’t seen significant changes in beach water quality.
“In the last few years, the microcystin advisories have been fairly steady. Somewhere between 94 and 95 percent of the time beaches do not need to be posted for microcystin,” Bruner says. He says levels of toxins from blue green algae have been steady in the past few years. But Bruner says bacteria levels can vary widely.
“E-coli is a little different. It’s much more variable and somewhat correlates with how much rain we get,” Bruner says. The bacteria levels can spike right after a rain, but then drop as the sun comes out. The DNR will update an online map through the summer with weekly test results and swim advisories.
Thanks to Katarina Sostaric of Iowa Public Radio