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Oklahoma Tourism Department closes a Grand Lake swimming area Tuesday after finding elevated bacteria levels in water samples

The swimming area near Bernice will remain closed for at least 48 hours.
By Sheila Stogsdill, For The Oklahoman Published: June 4, 2014

A Grand Lake swimming area near Bernice was closed Tuesday after bacteria was found in water samples, a Grand River Dam Authority spokesman said.

The Oklahoma Tourism Department closed the swimming area of Grand Lake State Park after GRDA officials discovered the presence of E. coli and enterococci bacteria in water samples, GRDA spokesman Justin Alberty said.

“Public safety is our top priority,” Alberty said. “At this time, it appears this is an isolated area of Grand Lake that is being impacted.”

The samples showed the levels of bacteria exceeded the Oklahoma Water Resources Board standards for bodily contact with water. The area will remain closed to the public for at least 48 hours until additional water samples are evaluated, he said.

“We have not determined the cause yet, but we are actively investigating at this time,” Alberty said.

GRDA officials are analyzing samples from the area in the GRDA Ecosystems and Education Center in Langley, Alberty said. Other samples are being sent to an independent state-certified lab for additional testing and confirmation.

“This is different than the blue-green algae scare,” Alberty said, referring to a 2011 situation.

In that occurrence, GRDA and the state Department of Environmental Quality confirmed an algae outbreak at several spots on Grand Lake and posted warning signs near swimming areas. No algae-related illnesses were reported.

“This is bacterial as opposed to algae,” Alberty said.


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