High bacteria levels keep Minneapolis' Lake Hiawatha beach closed

  • Updated: July 25, 2011 - 5:43 PM

Hiawatha beach in south Minneapolis has too much bacteria for safe swimming.

Lake Hiawatha beach in south Minneapolis remains closed this week because of high bacteria counts.

WHAT'S THE POOP?

City park officials closed the beach July 19 after regular water sampling found that E. coli bacteria exceeded state-specified guidelines for a 30-day average. Infection can cause diarrhea and abdominal cramps, or, occasionally, more serious problems. Parks spokeswoman Dawn Sommers said there have been no reports of illness from swimmers.

WHY HIAWATHA AGAIN?

Hiawatha is the only one of the city's 12 public beaches that is closed. The beach is more prone to pollutants than other swimming areas, Sommers said, because Minnehaha Creek runs directly through part of the lake, carrying goose droppings, pet waste and other runoff. Bacteria levels tend to rise after heavy rains that increase runoff.

OTHER COOL OPTIONS

Sommers suggested swimmers who can't use Hiawatha try one of two beaches at nearby Lake Nokomis, or take children to a new wading pool at Lake Hiawatha Park, 2701 E. 44th St.

"Hopefully, people still have plenty of options to go and have fun in the water," she said.

BACK IN WATER SOON?

Beaches are tested regularly for pollutants, and Sommers said Hiawatha will remain closed until it improves enough to meet state health guidelines. Thomas Beach on Lake Calhoun was closed July 12 because of high bacteria but re-opened two days later.

TOM MEERSMAN

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