November 28, 2014

Elyria
Intermittent clouds
25°F
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Health officials testing the waters

The Ohio Department of Health began testing the water at Lakeview and Century parks Monday to determine whether E. coli levels were high.
Results are expected to be available this afternoon, said Steve Binns, administrator of public programs for the Ohio Department of Health.
“You have to remember that this is raw, untreated water, not a swimming pool,” Binns said. “Don’t put your face in the water, and remember to shower shortly after swimming. If the water doesn’t look good, don’t go in.”
Young children and the elderly are most vulnerable to bacteria, and those who are already sick should avoid swimming in Lake Erie, Binns said.
The state health department will test water at Lakeview and Century parks four times a week throughout the summer now through Labor Day.  The results are sent daily to Lorain health officials, who analyze them and determine whether water condition advisories will be needed.  
The standard for testing was set by the Environmental Protection Agency, which suggests that warnings be posted when levels of E. coli exceed safe levels — 235 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water.
If the results are high, the park will post swimming advisories, which specifically urge young and elderly swimmers to stay out of the water.
The danger of E. coli comes from swallowing the water, not from contact with skin, and people who have recently been sick or have immune deficiencies should especially heed the warnings, Binns said.  
“People who are really concerned should go to a pool,” he said.
Jack Kurowski, director of environmental health for Lorain, said the state has made strides in the efficiency of testing over the past few years. Two years ago, results were measured based on five-day readings that left advisories posted even on days when swimming was safe. Now results can be delivered on a day-to-day basis. The health department is also working on a method that would allow officials to predict E. coli levels.
In 2006, advisories were posted 14 out of the 99 open swimming days at Lakeview Park, down more than two-thirds from the 10-year average of 37 days.
The Century Park beach saw
10 advisory days, which was up about 30 percent from the 10-year average of seven days.  Kurowski said neither beach has ever closed completely due to E. coli levels.
Although weather conditions have the biggest impact on E. coli levels, Kurowski said park employees have been keeping beaches clean by raking the sand, keeping seagulls off the beach and insuring that garbage is disposed of properly.  
Kurowski suggests that swimmers check the daily updates by calling (440) 204-2319 or going to www.lorainhealth.com.
Contact Ben Norris at 329-7119 or bnorris@chroniclet.com.