COLUMBIA — Three swimming beaches at Missouri state parks are closed this weekend because of E. coli levels up to seven times above the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' standards.
The highest levels were found at the Grand Glaize Beach at the Lake of the Ozarks State Park. A sample pulled Tuesday was 1732.9 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water, a news release from the Department of Natural Resources said.
The department will close beaches if a single sample is above 235 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters, the same guideline set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The beaches will remain closed until they measure below the department standard.
The beach at Finger Lakes State Park, which closed June 30 after E. coli levels were found to be almost five times above the accepted standard, is open.
Approximately 30 people swam at Finger Lakes on Saturday afternoon.
Rose Martynyuk’s family lives in Columbia and visits the lake almost every week because doing so is cheaper than joining a pool.
Martynyuk was not aware of the potential presence of the E. coli until she read it on a sign posted on the park’s bathroom building, but she said the family was not worried about the bacteria levels.
The closures did affect the plans of some other beachgoers this weekend. Ryan and Kelly Schlereth traveled from St. Louis to check out the Finger Lakes Park. They would have visited Mark Twain State Park if its beach had not been closed because of high water levels.
Kelly Schlereth said that she was not worried about the recently high levels because it is common following storms. Heavy rains can cause bacterial levels in lakes to rise, and lake users should exercise their judgment when swimming after heavy rains, the release said.
“As long as you go home and take a shower right away, you’ll be fine,” she said.
Michelle Rinehart and Barry Forsee traveled from Centralia to get away from work and enjoy some sun. The two also camp and fish and said they would have also visited Mark Twain State Park this weekend.
Although he was concerned about the risk of E. coli, Forsee said it was “not enough to keep us at home."
Information about all temporary closings at state parks can be found on the Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites website.