As of Friday morning, July 21st at 10:30 am the water quality advisory signs have been taken down on the north shore. Swimmer’s itch notices remain up. This implies that the last test came back with “acceptable” E. Coli levels. Good News!
On A Side Note…
I have to express my, and others exasperation at how water quality notices are handled at the park. First let me say, that many people are not worried about E. Coli advisories and don’t think it’s a big deal. (I am not personally too concerned about my personal exposure either.) Other folks with young families and especially those with compromised immune systems find E. Coli to be a very big deal indeed. It’s frankly disrespectful to these folks to not properly notify park visitors BEFORE they arrive at the park.
Here’s the thing; First, the park has an official “Current Conditions” page which is often anything but current. As of this article, the last update on the current conditions page was June 26th, nearly 1 month ago. No mention of the E. Coli advisories was ever made on the current conditions page, something that folks on social media have complained about. In addition, we (and many others) signed up years ago for the “official” DNR Devil’s Lake State Park email list. This means that we are supposed to get relevant news and notices about the park. This simply does not happen. E. Coli notices are just the sort of thing this email list should provide. Lastly, when no notices or updates were forthcoming in over a week (I’m told testing is done 2 times per week), I stopped at the Visitor Information Center at the park yesterday (July 20th) and asked the staff. I was told that they didn’t know anything other than watching the signs themselves and were not updated. Really? The folks that greet you at the gate are not kept informed either? How can they intelligently answer questions from callers or concerned visitors?
This should be an obvious customer service priority. People drive 3 hours or more to visit Devil’s Lake State Park and to swim at the beaches. They have every right to know the quality of the water BEFORE they load up their cars, drive 3 hours to wait in line a half-hour and navigate full parking lots, etc., (At least up to the last test result.) Water quality notices should be accurate, available and up-to-date on the park’s official current conditions page and emailed out on their mailing list. Testing updates should also state when these notices are removed and the water is considered safe. This isn’t hard and allows park visitors to plan ahead. I would suggest a basic water quality paragraph on the current conditions page: Current Status, Last Test Result, Next Test Result along with where testing is taken and how often. Obviously kept up-to-date through the swimming season.
For park visitors, I can tell you that you can check Wisconsin Beach Health website (Hosted by the USGS.) for what seems to be regularly updated beach reports including at Devil’s Lake State Park. But I also realize that tens of thousands of park users would never know about or think to look for this website and would simply check the current conditions page. If you ask me, that’s exactly the right thing to do and should be expected. For some park users this information is just too important not to be proactive.
If you agree that water quality reports should be up-to-date and available online on Devil’s Lake State Park’s “official” current conditions page and shared via email, I’d encourage you to email the parks and tell them.
OK.. my rant is over… but jeepers crumbcakes anyway!!
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..
E. Coli is not the same as “Swimmer’s Itch”.
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.
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.
- Click here to learn more about e coli and beach monitoring from the Wisconsin DNR.
- A good E. Coli overview – Purdue U.
- Thinking differently about E-coli – from the national park service
- Symptoms of E. Coli – Mayo Clinic
***Obligatory Disclaimer: This website is NOT associated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The views expressed in this blog are mine and do not represent the views of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.