News Release 576

October Lake of the Ozarks sampling finds no cases of elevated E. Coli levels 

Volume 38-576 (For Immediate Release)
For more information: 573-751-1010

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, OCT. 6, 2010 – Water samples drawn from the Lake of the Ozarks Tuesday found none with E. coli levels in excess of federal standards for public swimming beaches, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced today.

The department sampled 51 sites along the entire Gravois Arm for E. coli bacteria. The purpose of the program is to develop a five-year baseline that will assist in future studies of the lake’s health.

This was the third and final sampling for these coves this year. This is the fourth year of the five-year study. Testing was conducted from June through October with each set of coves being tested three times.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established a single-sample recommended maximum level of 235 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water for public swimming beaches. The highest E. coli level found in the October sampling was 17.0 colonies per 100 milliliters. The geometric mean for the dataset is 1.6 – the lowest monthly geometric mean since the project began.

E. coli is a bacteria found in the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals, including humans.  While most strains of E. coli are harmless, some can cause gastrointestinal illness.  The testing process used in this study does not differentiate between strains.

These bacteria and other pathogens can reach lake water from many different sources, both human and animal.  For some people, such as children, elderly or those with weakened immune systems, even low levels of these bacteria may cause illness.

The sampling program is the result of a partnership between the Department of Natural Resources, Ameren UE and the Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance, which provides trained volunteers to collect the samples. Ameren also pays $15,000 per year for the five-year study.  When completed, the water testing will include coves from Bagnell Dam to Truman Dam.

A link to the results and a map of the areas to be sampled is available on the department’s website at Monitoring results will be posted to the map as they become available.