(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Swimming is restricted at Beach 11 on Presque Isle State Park due to elevated E. coli levels.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has announced the E. coli bacteria count exceeds limits set by the Erie County Department of Health.
According to the Erie County Department of Health protocol, if E. coli counts are equal to or exceed 1000 CFU per 100 mL of water, that beach is posted as Restricted Swimming.
The count for Beach 11 is currently 1030.
So how does the bacteria get into the water?
According to the DCNR, anything that helps carry sewage and waste into the lake contributes to the rise in bacteria. Leaky sewage lines from cities along the lake may allow contaminated water to reach the lake. Storm sewers carry dog and cat feces off sidewalks and streets and eventually into the lake.
Cattle and other domestic animals can deposit feces directly into streams as well as wild animals and birds. Geese and Gulls on the lakeshore could be contributing to the problem. Manure piles can contribute pathogens to surface water via runoff and erosion.
Also, severe weather can create heavy rains that result in excessive upstream runoff, and high waves that wash up onto warm, sandy beach areas. The warm, moist sand can be contaminated by humans (diapers) or from animals, that can provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Lake Erie is a natural body of water, and is susceptible to contamination of pathogens. For public safety, testing of swimming waters is performed twice weekly. The DCNR reports re-testing has begun and will be performed daily.
During Restricted Swimming, park visitors are not permitted to enter the water at the affected beach until an E. coli count is less than 1000 CFU per 100 mL of water.
Beach areas posted under Restricted Swimming are still open to the public for sunbathing and other recreational activities.
All other remaining beaches at Presque Isle are open for swimming at this time.