Media Contact: Anne Perry Moore (218) 723-2356
Technical Contact: Heidi Bauman (218) 723-4953
All MPCA staff, toll-free (voice and TTY): (800) 657-3864
Duluth, Minn. -- Due to higher-than-normal bacteria levels, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's (MPCA) Beach Program coordinator placed a sign advising against water contact at a Duluth public beach today. The advisory will remain in effect until at least tomorrow or when bacterial numbers fall below the program threshold..
"We understand western Duluth received two-and-a-half inches of rain recently, and that probably contributed to high levels of E. coli bacteria at the Clyde Avenue Boat Landing," said Heidi Bauman, MPCA Beach Program Coordinator. "Despite cold river water temperatures, we want people to know that swimming or water contact is not recommended at that site." If anyone becomes ill after contact with the Clyde Avenue Boat Landing's water, they should contact the St. Louis County Health Department office at (218) 725-5200.
The Clyde Avenue monitoring site had two advisories posted during July 2003 and none in 2004.
The Clyde Avenue Boat Landing is currently the only site of 39 tested by the MPCA with a "no water contact" advisory sign. "The more we promote our Web site, http://www.mnbeaches.org and our hotline, (218) 725-7724, the faster people can learn about the water quality at their favorite beaches and public access points," Bauman said. Though quantities are limited, Web visitors can currently register for a free beach ball with the beach program's Web address printed on it and to be added to an e-mail alert service.
Bacterial sources such as dog and wildlife feces, dirty diapers, failing septic systems and sewer line breaks and overflows are often mentioned as possible beach water contaminants. "Though the bacteria's origins cannot be determined due to funding and program restrictions," Bauman said, "rain seems to be a common factor among the beach advisories we've posted during the past three years." More rain is predicted and Bauman cautioned people to stay out of the water for the next few days.
Staff from the MPCA's federally-funded beach water monitoring program, now in its third year, began testing beach water at a limited number of public access points in early May. Staff began water testing at all 39 public access sites along Lake Superior's Minnesota shoreline on May 23.
Currently, Minnesota does not require beach testing. As a result, water sampling and announcements of unsafe swimming conditions are inconsistently issued. The federal Beach Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act, an amendment to the Clean Water Act, calls on Minnesota and other states with coastal waters to monitor water quality at public beaches and improve how they notify the public about health risks at beaches.
For more information about the beach program, call Heidi Bauman, MPCA Beach Program Coordinator, at (218) 723-4953, (800) 657-3864 or visit the related Web page at www.mnbeaches.org. The Web site also provides an opportunity to receive free advisory alert e-mails, maps of the monitoring sites, lists recent water monitoring results at all 39 beach locations, and a recently-released report of last year's program and monitoring accomplishments. People may call the program's hotline at (218) 725-7724 for the latest beach advisory information.