Geese identified as bacteria source, beach remains closed at the - KOAM TV 7

Geese identified as bacteria source, beach remains closed at the Bernice swimming area of Grand Lake State Park

Langley – Results from the water samples taken at the Grand Lake State Park (Bernice) swimming area of Grand Lake last week are pointing towards geese as the culprit for the elevated levels of E.Coli and Enterococci. Those elevated bacteria levels led the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department to close the swim beach on Tuesday, June 3. 

On Monday (June 16), GRDA and ODEQ announced that an independent testing laboratory in Tennessee had confirmed that the high levels of bacteria contained DNA from geese and perhaps another avian source. The results also gave the agencies confidence that the bacteria was not from human or cattle sources.

Because that particular stretch of shoreline is a favorite nesting area for a large population of geese, recent heavy rains in the area likely led to geese waste being washed into the water, leading to the elevated bacteria levels.

“When this swim area was initially closed in early June, the primary goal was to determine the source,” said GRDA Communications Director Justin Alberty. “These results show this to be a naturally occurring event and not anything man-made.”

Officials continue to monitor the situation and GRDA continues to gather daily samples from the swim beach area. Following a reassessment on Tuesday, June 17, officials made the decision to keep the swim area closed until the bacteria levels return to a safe range.

Throughout the two-week beach closure, GRDA has continued to stress that the incident is isolated to the swim beach area at Grand Lake State Park, and all other areas of Grand Lake remain open.

“Grand Lake is large, with plenty of other locations for swimming and access. This closure impacts a very small stretch of 1,300 miles of shoreline.” said Alberty. “Of course, we encourage the public to practice common sense and follow safe practices when swimming but we also remind everyone that the closure is for this one beach area only.”

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