Swimmers hoping to head to Theodore Wirth Lake Beach in Golden Valley will have to splash around somewhere else. Earlier this week, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board found high levels of E. coli in the water and temporarily closed the beach.
When Mike Maroney showed up at the beach Wednesday morning it wasn't the "Beach Closed" signs that caught his attention first.
"There were a lot of seagull feathers and other birds and other things just, yeah, strewn about the water," he says, "and we wanted nothing to do with it."
"Slightly gross," says his friend, Amanda Cialkowski. "Who needs a mouthful of feathers?"
Feathers would have been the least of their problems. State guidelines say bacteria levels over 1,260 would warrant a beach closing. The level at Wirth Lake Beach on Monday was 1,986.5.
The Park Board tests its swimming beaches every week. Last week's bacteria level at Wirth Lake Beach was 413. Levels for the two weeks prior to that were less than eleven.
Dawn Sommers, communications and marketing manager for the Park Board, says this week's test result shows an unusual spike, likely caused by a higher number of birds hanging out at the lake since the start of migration season. Sommers says if there was a flock of geese sitting on the lake 20 minutes before testing, it would probably cause a spike.
"I think the geese, that makes a lot of difference," says Renate Ringsven, who brought her granddaughter, Kaysa, to Wirth Lake Beach to swim. "You know when they're swimming and going to the bathroom and stuff all goes in the water."
They opted to go to nearby Cedar Lake.
The Park Board will retest the water at Wirth Lake Beach on Wednesday. The test takes 24 hours. The board will reopen the beach when the level falls within state guidelines again.
August 29, 2012