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Elevated E. coli readings prompt closing today of eight Lake Superior area beaches near Duluth
Duluth News Tribune
Published July 20, 2005

Five new beaches were posted as unsafe for human contact today in the Duluth-Superior Harbor and along Lake Superior because of elevated E. coli bacteria.

Signs advising no water contact were posted today at the Clyde Avenue Boat Landing on the St. Louis River and at Park Point's Southworth Marsh waterfront near the Duluth Rowing Club dock in Duluth as well as at Agate Bay Beach in Two Harbors, the Twin Points public access east of Two Harbors and the Grand Marais downtown beach.

Meanwhile, two other harbor side beaches on Park Point at Hearding Island at 20th Street and the new Boat Club waterfront at 14th street remained posted today as unsafe.

In Wisconsin, the Barker's Island Inner Beach in Superior has been posted closed. High levels of E. coli bacteria were found at all of the beaches, indicating possible fecal contamination that could make people sick if the water is swallowed.

The eight Northland beaches closed today are believed to be the most at one time since the federal beach monitoring program was expanded to the Great Lakes in 2003. It's not clear what is causing the high bacteria levels at each beach. Bacteria could be coming from leaky sewer lines, failing septic tanks, swimmers, domestic animal feces or wild animal and bird feces.

Heidi Baumann, coordinator of the Lake Superior Beach Monitoring Program for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, speculated wind and wave action on Sunday and Monday may have stirred up bacteria. She said the beaches were too far apart for there to be a single cause of the elevated bacteria.

The advisory signs could come down as early as Wednesday if re-testing shows bacteria levels drop below acceptable levels.


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Anyone who becomes ill after contact with beach water should contact Amy Westbrook at the Minnesota Department of Health Duluth office at (218) 723-4907. For more information, go to www.MNBeaches.org. q/

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