Grand Marais beaches back to acceptable bacteria levels

The Minnesota Department of Health warned people to avoid contact with the water at two Grand Marais beaches on Lake Superior on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. Since then the water has been re-tested and the advisories on both beaches have been lifted.

Water samples collected Monday, July 16 at the Grand Marais downtown beach near Harbor Park and the Grand Marais Campground beach contained elevated levels of E. coli bacteria, indicating the possible presence of fecal contamination.

Re-testing on July 17 found that the water at the Grand Marais campground beach, next to the rec. park pavilion, had returned to acceptable levels and now has a “water contact acceptable” rating.

The downtown beach, by Harbor Park, remained under the “no water contact” advisory until Thursday, July 19. A beach advisory alert was issued on July 19 stating that bacteria levels had returned to acceptable levels.

Other beaches with advisories include Duluth’s Park Point near 15th Street and by the Sky Harbor Parking Lot and Hearding Island Canal near 20th Street in Duluth.

Beach monitoring also took place at the following beaches in Cook County on July 16:  Chicago Bay boat launch in Hovland; Paradise Beach, Kadunce Creek, Durfee Creek in Colvill; Old Shore Road, Cutface Creek Wayside Rest; Temperance River State Park, Schroeder Town Park and Sugarloaf Cove Beach in Schroeder. All received water contact acceptable ratings.

A number of factors, such as dog, geese and other wildlife feces, dirty diapers, failing septic systems and sewer line breaks and overflows, can contribute to higher levels of illness-causing bacteria.
The Minnesota Lake Superior Beach Monitoring Program offers the following tips to minimize risks associated with potential water contamination. Its website recommends waiting 24 hours before going swimming after a heavy rainfall and showering after swimming or recreating at the beach. It also advises that beach goers do not swallow water and that they try to keep face and head out of the water. If possible, the website says to wear earplugs and goggles. Finally, it advises people with weakened immune systems not to swim.
Anyone who becomes ill after contacting beach water is asked to contact the Minnesota Department of Health at (877) 366-3455. 

To find the latest results of beach monitoring for North Shore beaches, visit www.pca.state.mn.us/water/beaches/.