In the month of July, 3 Lake Minnetonka public beaches were temporarily closed to the public due to high levels of bacteria growth recently found there. Beach side activities at Big Island, Wayzata Beach, and Excelsior Commons were temporarily closed, until the Environmental Protection Agency re-tests the bacteria levels in the water and they return to an acceptable level. Excelsior Commons was tested on July 23 and has since been repoened. As of July 31st, Big Island & Wayzata Beach are currently still temporarily closed for public swimming, until bacteria levels return to what is generally regarded as safe. Bill Delknap, spokesperson for Hennepin County Public Health says: “It happens unpredictably from one beach to the next. It begins when the water temperature warms in July and August, and bacteria growth is triggered by a large number of people swimming or waster in the water.” A number of different things can cause the spike in bacteria levels, including the large population of geese, large amount of people swimming in these areas, and the large amount of rainstorm runoff we have experienced this summer, among other things. To measure the safety of the 31 swimming beaches in the West Metro area, samples are collected each summer testing for high levels of bacteria such as E. coli. EPA standards state that the E. coli bacteria count must measure below safe levels of 235 units per 100 milliliters in a single sample.
You can check the status of other major local beaches an other local swimming areas at the Hennepin County www.hennepin.us/beaches.
You can continue to enjoy our beautiful Lake Minnetonka beaches. Here are some recommendations from the Center for Disease Control for staying healthy while enjoying the beach:
- Don’t mouth or swallow beach water.
- Shower after swimming at the beach.
- Do not swim for 24 hours after a heavy rainfall.
- Wash hands thoroughly before eating and after using the bathroom.
- Don’t swim if you’re sick, or have a weakened immune system.
- Put tight-fitting rubber or plastic pants on children wearing diapers and those not toilet-trained.
- Take your children for frequent bathroom breaks.
- Don’t attract waterfowl to the beach by feeding ducks, geese, gulls.
- Pick up your trash.
- If you boat, properly dispose of waste.
For further information, you can contact the Hennepin County Public Health Department at (612) 543-5200.