Grand Lake Swimming Area Closed Due To Presence Of E. coli
BERNICE, Oklahoma - A Grand Lake swimming area has been closed due to unsafe levels of E. coli and Enterococci bacteria in the water. The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department has closed the Grand Lake State Park swimming area at Bernice.
"Everybody just started yelling at us, 'There's stuff in the water. You gotta get out,'" said Lake Goer, Kurtis Coughren.
Kids were playing at Bernice State Park, but not in the water.
"She said ‘get out of the water, don't get under the water and swim here. Stand up and walk,' and then they made us go over there and take showers," said Coughren.
The no swimming signs are warning many at the lake to stay out and avoid the high levels of bacteria the Grand River Dam Authority says are in the water.
Tests Tuesday were positive for E. coli and Enterococci.
The GRDA released a statement saying, "It appears this is an isolated area of Grand Lake that is being impacted. We have not determined the cause yet."
"You better be a little bit afraid of that. Anybody would be," Jodi Jackson said.
Jackson was putting up signs to help warn families who were planning to fish.
Ryan Wright hopes this won't be another summer-long outbreak, like when blue green algae shut down beaches in past summers.
"I'll still swim. It's not going to mess up my summer," said Wright.
GRDA said the water in the area will be off limits for at least 48 hours until more tests are complete, leaving many waiting.
"They said we could get in as soon as possible when they're ready, but we've been out here for a while," Coughren said.
Several agencies are investigating, including the Oklahoma Department of Health and Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.
"At this time, it appears this is an isolated area of Grand Lake that is being impacted," said Justin Alberty, communication director for the Grand River Dam Authority.
"We constantly monitor the water quality of bodies of water overseen by GRDA and will continue to keep the public informed as we learn more. Until that time, we recommend that lake users avoid this area of the park."
They haven't said how this could affect fish and other wildlife.