Updated June 4, 2014 - Grand Lake Park swim beach remains closed, investigation into E.coli presence continues
VINITA, Okla. – The Grand River Dam Authority is reporting that its latest round of water samples -- taken from the Grand Lake State Park (Bernice) swimming area on Tuesday (June 3) -- continued to show elevated levels of E.coli and Enterococci bacteria. Those elevated levels are what prompted the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department to close the park’s swim beach for an initial 48 hour period on Tuesday. These latest sample results have extended the closing until at least Friday, when more testing results will be available.
“Because of the continued elevated levels of E.Coli and Enterococci in the area we will continue to be cautious and keep public safety as the priority,” said GRDA Communications Director Justin Alberty. “At the same time, we are still actively investigating to determine the source for these elevated levels.”
Alberty also stressed that the high bacteria presence appears to be isolated to this one location, with many other areas of Grand Lake still available for swimming and water recreation.
“Like you would any time you visit the water, we just ask you to use common sense and follow safe swimming practices,” he said.
The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) offers the following tips swimmers should keep in mind:
- Hold nose or wear nose plugs when jumping into the water.
- Wash open skin cuts and scrapes with clean soap and water immediately after swimming.
- Avoid swallowing water when swimming.
- Wear ear plugs to prevent ear infections.
- Wear swim goggles or masks to prevent eye infections.
- Avoid swimming near storm drains (pipes that drain polluted water from streets).
- Take children to the restroom frequently/Use swim diapers on infants.
- Also, after swimming, always remember to wash hands with soap and water for a full 20 seconds before preparing or eating food.
GRDA continues to work with other state agencies to ensure a thorough investigation of the recent E.coli presence. Those agencies include the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and the Oklahoma Water Resources Board.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, E. coli is normally found in the digestive tracts of humans and animals. Most strains of E. coli are harmless, but others can cause illness. Some kinds cause diarrhea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, pneumonia, and other illnesses. Persons may develop illness if they swallow or aspirate contaminated lake water, or touch something that is contaminated with the bacteria and place it in their mouth.
The time between exposure and feeling sick is variable depending on the type of E. coli ingested ranging from several hours to as long as 10 days. Symptoms of gastrointestinal illness associated with E. coli diarrhea generally include mild belly pain, nausea, bloating, vomiting, or non-bloody diarrhea.
If you recently swam, waded or splashed in the water at Grand Lake State Park and experience diarrhea that lasts for more than three days, or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine, please see your health care provider for medical evaluation and treatment.
# # #Posted June 3, 2014 - State temporarily closes Grand Lake State Park area of Grand Lake: Water samples from area indicate presence of E.coli and Enterococci bacteria
NEWS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE GRAND RIVER DAM AUTHORITY
VINITA, Okla. – The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department has closed the swimming area of Grand Lake State Park (Bernice) after the Grand River Dam Authority discovered the presence of E.coli and Enterococci in water samples taken from the area. Those samples showed the levels of bacteria exceeded the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) standards for bodily contact with water. The area will remain closed to the public for at least 48 hours until additional water samples are evaluated.
“Public safety is our top priority.” said Justin Alberty, GRDA spokesperson. “At this time, it appears this is an isolated area of Grand Lake that is being impacted. We have not determined the cause yet but are actively investigating at this time. We constantly monitor the water quality of bodies of water overseen by GRDA and will continue to keep the public informed as we learn more. Until that time, we recommend that lake users avoid this area of the park.”
GRDA regularly monitors water quality on its lakes using various methods. One method utilizes electronic water quality profilers. These profilers include electronic probes on pulley systems in front of the dams at each GRDA-managed lake. The probes are dropped every three feet to calibrate and take readings of the water. They monitor the water quality from the surface all the way to the bottom of the lake. The GRDA Ecosystems Management Department also takes water samples from several permanent locations across both Grand and Hudson lakes on a regular basis.
GRDA is currently analyzing samples from the area in the water laboratory at the GRDA Ecosystems and Education Center in Langley. Other samples are being sent to an independent state-certified lab for additional testing and confirmation of GRDA findings.
GRDA is working collaboratively with other state agencies to ensure a thorough investigation of the recent E.coli and Enterococci presence. Those agencies include the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, Oklahoma Water Resources Board.
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