6.11.2010

State to Start Testing Water for Bacteria

I heard on KSL this afternoon that the State of Utah is going to start testing many popular lakes and reservoirs for bacteria.  If the bacteria levels exceed a federal standard, officials will be posting warning signs.  

There is a great website (which I will add to the Resources page) that lists current swimming advisories and data collected at several lakes and reservoirs.  (Unfortunately Bountiful Lake is not one of the bodies of water that is tested for bacteria).

I have to wonder if this is due in part to the roundworm scare at Daybreak last year.  I also wonder if the rapid growth of triathlon is bringing more swimmers to Utah's lakes and reservoirs, leading authorities to begin testing the waters.  Whatever the reason, I am happy that bacteria levels are being monitored and plan on checking the swimming advisories before swimming at any of Utah's State parks.

Here is the brief report from KSL.com:

UTAH COUNTY -- The state has started testing popular swimming holes to find out just how much bacteria is out there. Officials will be posting warning signs if the levels are above a federal standard.

In Utah County, the water testing program started at Salem Pond and Utah Lake. Elevated levels of E. coli were found at the pond, so health warning signs are posted.

"I consider it more unsafe," said Executive Director of the Utah County Health Department Dr. Joseph Miner. "It's always a risk when you have this kind of water."

Miner says all lakes, ponds and streams are contaminated with bacteria at some level, but they aren't all tested so we don't know to what extent.

E. coli and other forms of bacteria in the water can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other unpleasant illnesses.

Miner says lakes and streams are not the only water culprits for causing these illnesses. He points to pressurized irrigation systems found in many cities that can also contain bacteria.

Miner says kids often swim or play in sprinklers using this type of water and that parents should prevent their kids from exposing their face, hands and mouth.

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