North Shore Beach Open!

North Shore Beach Open!

UPDATE: Devil’s Lake’s North Shore Beach is now open as of noon, Friday Jun 26. Wednesday and Thursday’s water sample [E. Coli] results were back within the “safe” zone and the north shore beach is again open for swimming. The closure signs are removed from the beach and all signage & voice messages are being updated and changed.


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Common Questions

What is E. Coli?

E. coli is a common form of coliform bacteria that is found in the large intestines of humans and other warm-blooded animals. It is used as an indicator organism since it is easily cultured, and if present in elevated amounts, indicates that fecal matter is present in the water. If fecal matter is in the water, then other disease-causing bacteria may also be present..

How long will it take to clean the lake?

You can not “clean” a natural lake in the way that you might a swimming pool.  You simply must wait for levels to go down in the affected area.

We were in the lake this morning! Why didn’t they get the signs up faster? 

When a water sample is taken from the various parts of the lake, it takes a couple days to send in the sample to a lab and get the results back. This means that the test result that close the beach were actually from 2 or 3 days ago. By the time the signs go up, the numbers will have changed. It could be higher, lower or the same. This is why retesting takes place right away. 

Why is there an advisory for one side of the lake and not the other?

Sometimes there will be an advisory for only one side or section of a lake or beach area. This is because the body of water is large enough that it is possible to have one end with elevated bacteria levels and the other end to be considered under safe levels with little threat of being contaminated. This is why you will see swimming, boating and other activities going on as usual in other areas of the lake.

More info


  1. Joshua Barton

    So if this is found on North Shore how does it not get to South Shore? I been at South Shore almost all week with my son and family and I’m very concerned on this matter.

    1. Author

      Feel free to call the park directly at 608-356-8301. What I can tell you is that e coli is ALWAYS in natural lakes, streams, etc., What they test for is the quantity in (parts-per-million) which goes up and down almost daily and changes from place to place depending on a variety of factors. It’s pretty easy to get different readings at different locations. The action of the park suggests that on North Shore the level of ecoli tested above their approved limit, and on south shore the level of e coli tested below the limit.

      1. Joshua Barton

        That answers everything. Also thank you for the park number as I had some jerk back into my van yesterday on south shore and didn’t see it but dented my van and left a note on my window and of that ever happens again I can call the lake and get help.

    2. John Salder

      Josh, because the lake is so big, the distance between the south shore and north shore acts as a barrier to deter it from reaching the other shore. As the situation presents currently and due to the bacteria being isolated to one side of the lake, It would take a very long time for the bacteria to multiply or diffuse to the other shore and there are lots of natural factors (like water temperature, heat, sunlight, living things) that keep the E. Coli from spreading like that. Hope that helps ease some concerns. Source: I am a biological researcher who works specifically with E. Coli

  2. Lane Wake

    We were there today at 12:30 to 2:30pm. The water was being fully utilized and the paddle boats were in the water. There was absolutely nobody closing or deterring any beach use.

    1. Author

      The rangers will not forcibly remove or stop anyone from swimming… They simply post notices in public areas and MAY warn swimmers IF they happen to be out there to see them in the water. Mostly folks are left to their best judgement.(which means a lot of people will swim anyway). Boating and other activities go on as usual, the lake itself is not closed. .

  3. Angie

    So how concerned should I be about myself and my young daughter who were swimming all morning long at the North Shore on Tuesday? I am quite concerned about this!

    1. Author

      I can’t tell you how concerned to be, but I would bet that in a week it would stand out if we hear of anyone actually affected by swimming in devils lake. Not that it can’t happen, but…

  4. Someone who cares and has a family

    I think if this is going on they shouldn’t let no one swim on both side and also it should be closed when this going on and so they can clean it or get rid of this or do what they need to do so no one can get sick

    1. Author

      E. Coli is natural. Levels can be higher on one side or one area of the lake than another.

      You can’t “clean” E. Coli from a lake.. You simply wait for the levels to drop.

  5. Deanna

    I wish that there had been more signs posted or people informing swimmers that the beach was closed. I returned from hiking with my children and they were swimming today, with many other families, for over an hour. Putting signs on the bathroom doors alone would help spread the word quickly so people can be informed of any issues. I really hope my children don’t get sick.

    1. Author

      I agree with you that “Putting signs on the bathroom doors” would be a good idea. One point worth making is that time passes from when the test was taken (a couple of days back) until the results arrive, then until staff can get signs up…

  6. Haywood Jablome

    Damn, what did we do in the days of yore? We dealt with it. People are too quick to assign blame and too easily offended. If you do t like it, go to a public pool where I’m sure kids pee in the pool. Get over it

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