January 15, 2019

Lake Superior Beaches Closed for E. coli Contamination

The Minnesota Department of Health has recommended No Contact with the water at several beaches along the shore of Lake Superior. The beaches are monitored on Mondays every week during the summer months. The DOH announced today that  42nd Avenue East Beach and Brighton Beach in East Duluth both have high levels of E. coli bacteria.

E. coliIn addition, Minnesota Point 15th Street Harbor Side Beach, Park Point 20th Street/Hearding Island Canal BeachPark Point Sky Harbor Parking Lot Beach, have high levels of bacteria. That area recently had severe flooding from heavy summer rains, causing millions of dollars worth of damage. Flooding can wash bacteria from sewage systems into lakes, rivers, and streams. Do not swim in the water at these beaches. People have contracted bacterial infections from swimming in contaminated waters, and several children have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a life-threatening complication of an E. coli infection.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that bacterial contamination of beaches is becoming a serious problem. That agency established the Beaches Environmental Assessment, Closure, and Health (BEACH) program in response to contaminations. That program strengthens beach standards and testing, provides faster laboratory test methods, predicts pollution, informs the public of dangers, and invests in health and methods research to protect public health at bathing beaches. Section 303(c) of the Clean Water Act is the legal basis for water quality standards. That is a state program under EPA oversight. It’s a good idea to check with your state health department before going to any beach, whether it’s a lake, ocean, stream, or river.

Just as an aside, water temperatures in Lake Superior are very cold, even at this time of year. They range from 43 degrees F. to 58 degrees F.

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