Beach Water Quality Factors
Each summer, thousands visit our City lakes and enjoy a refreshing swim at our many swimming beaches. To ensure a healthy and enjoyable experience for these swimmers, we monitor the water at the public beaches for E. coli, bacteria that can be an indication of health risks for swimmers.
Beaches close if a water sample does not meet the State of Minnesota’s guidelines. A beach reopens when testing reveals that levels are within guidelines. The test for E. coli takes 24 hours, and results are posted early afternoon the day after we sample a beach. The closing of a Minneapolis beach is rare, and in most cases the beach will re-open quickly.
Bacteria Levels Rise with Rainfall
High bacteria levels generally occur immediately after rain events in Minneapolis. Here's what you should be aware of regarding bacteria levels:
- Pick up after your Pet: Increased bacteria levels predominantly come from waterfowl and pet wastes in yards, streets and parks that wash into lakes either directly or through the storm sewers as the result of a heavy rain.
- Avoid Swimming after a Rainfall: Elevated bacterial levels in lakes generally return to normal levels within 48 hours of a rainfall.
- Swim Healthy: Avoid swimming if you or your child have diarrhea, to prevent the transmission of the disease.
- Keep it Clean: Be careful to not get lake water in your mouth. Wash your hands before eating and after changing a diaper. Shower afterwards if possible.
Summer Heat Attracts Swimmer's Itch
Swimmer’s Itch occasionally affects our City lakes and beaches. Here's what you should know about this annoying but harmless irritation:
- To avoid becoming infected, towel dry immediately after exiting the water and shower afterwards, when possible.
- Characterized by small, irritating red welts that appear after swimming. Sensitive individuals may itch for several weeks.
- Occurs most often after swimming on hot, still summer days.
- Caused by a parasite that infects birds and snails during different stages of its life. The parasite is unable to live in humans.