Lake of the Ozarks Sampling Finds No Elevated E. Coli Levels
JEFFERSON CITY - The sampling of 13 upper Lake of the Ozark coves Tuesday found none with E. coli levels in excess of the federal standard for public swimming beaches, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced today.
In the final year of a five-year program, the department is sampling water from coves in the Upper Lake of the Ozarks from the Brown Bend area, mile marker 61, to the U.S. Highway 65 bridge, mile marker 90. The purpose of the program is to develop a five-year baseline that will assist in future studies of the lake's health.
All of the coves sampled Tuesday will be tested monthly through October, including immediately following Labor Day weekend.
The state water quality standard for swimming and related whole body contact recreation is a geometric mean of 126 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water during the entire recreational season. A geometric mean is a statistical method used to analyze data collected over a period of time.
Because the state standard requires data collected over the entire summer before a determination is made, the department reports monthly results as compared to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's single-sample standard of 235 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water for swimming beaches.
E. coli is a bacteria found in the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals, including humans. While most strains of E. coli are harmless, some can cause gastrointestinal illness. The testing process used in this study does not differentiate between strains.
These bacteria and other pathogens can reach lake water from many different sources, both human and animal. For some people, such as children, elderly or those with weakened immune systems, even low levels of these bacteria may cause illness.
The sampling program is a partnership between the Department of Natural Resources, Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance and Ameren UE. When completed, the program will have collected sampling data from coves from Bagnell Dam to Truman Dam.
A link to a map of the areas being sampled is available on the department's website. Monitoring results will be posted to the map as they become available.