The city closed the public beach area at Lakeside Park last August because water samples collected by Logan Martin Lake Protection Association water monitors showed high levels of the E. coli bacteria.
“We will be testing (the water) repeatedly,” City Manger Patrick Draper said. “It is important for the public to know this is going to be ongoing.”
He said water samples collected by the city and tested by independent laboratories have only found low levels of the E. coli bacteria in the lake water in the swimming area of Lakeside Park.
According to one LMLPA official, a reading of 200 E. coli bacteria colonies per 100 milliliters of water or less means the water is relatively safe for human contact.
Draper said samples collected by city Water Department personnel were well below that threshold.
He said one reading was 18 colonies per 100 milliliters of water, while another sample recorded 60 colonies per 100 milliliters of water.
Draper said the city is following testing guidelines established by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
He said samples are collected each month and tested. The average, or “geometric means,” must fall within a certain testing limit. So far, the water is safe for human contact.
Draper said the city took proactive measures when it found out about the possible E. coli contamination problem last August.
Many people pointed to Canada geese as the culprits. The large birds were frequently fed by park visitors.
The City Council enacted an ordinance forbidding the feeding of waterfowl in the city, and the offense carries a possible $25 fine.
“Nobody was trying to be mean,” Draper said. “It can cause a potential health problem.”
Draper said the city tested the park’s septic system to ensure no raw sewage was leaking from the system and making its way to the lake.
“We also removed a beaver dam near the wetlands project,” Draper said. “We’re now employing a process recommended by ADEM for water testing.”
He said the city will continue to collect and test the water in the Lakeside Park swimming area throughout the summer, while the swimming area remains open.
Draper said the U.S. Department of Agriculture will conduct a roundup of Canada geese this month, and he also reminds the public not to feed waterfowl at the park.
He said the city has done everything it can do to alleviate any possible sources of the E. coli bacteria.
“I want people to know we have taken immediate action to eliminate this problem,” Draper said.
He said the city will notify the public immediately, if the city has to close the swimming area.
“I hope we can keep the swimming area open the rest of the summer,” Draper said.
Contact David Atchison at email@example.com.