Duluth, Minn. ― “Due to recent flooding and heavy rain events, we’re conducting, and will continue to conduct, water sampling in the Moose Lake and Barnum areas,” Heidi Bauman, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) temporary floodwater monitoring coordinator, said. “As a precaution, we’re recommending anyone in a flood-affected area should play it safe by staying out of the water, due to possible exposure to bacterial contaminants.”
The MPCA is taking the unusual step of conducting water sampling in Moosehead Lake, Big Hanging Horn Lake, Long Lake near Rutledge and the public river access near the city of Sturgeon Lake due to local wastewater collection systems’ release of untreated wastewater into the nearest water bodies. Untreated sewage contains E. coli and fecal bacteria that can affect human health and cause flu-like symptoms.
Water samples collected July 1 showed elevated bacteria levels only at the river access on the Moosehorn River near the city of Sturgeon Lake. The agency recommends that people stay out of the Moosehead River and Moosehead Lake until subsequent water sampling shows acceptable levels for human exposure.
People can call 218-302-6660 for a recorded message that gives the names of lakes that are considered unsafe for swimming due to bacterial contamination. People swim at their own risk at other lakes in the flood-affected area.
People with concerns about how to protect themselves after floodwater contact should visit Beach Monitoring Program website. That Minnesota Department of Health website offers a variety of precautions and actions people can take if exposed to water that is possibly contaminated by bacteria from untreated sewage.
The MPCA will continue collecting water samples at Moosehead Lake and the public river access near Sturgeon Lake on Thursdays and Mondays for the foreseeable future. The agency will post advisories, based on its latest monitoring data, Beach Monitoring Program website, and update the recorded message at 218-302-6660.