Lake Superior beaches mostly bacteria-freeMost waterfront areas along Lake Superior’s North Shore and in Duluth showed no signs of potentially unhealthy bacteria over the summer, according the Minnesota Department of Health.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
Most waterfront areas along Lake Superior’s North Shore and in Duluth showed no signs of potentially unhealthy bacteria over the summer, according the Minnesota Department of Health.
Of the 37 beaches tested at least weekly from late May into September, 22 had no positive hits for bacteria.
Of the remaining 15 beaches, 10 had only one posting for high bacteria levels that could make people sick if they swallowed the water.
The most problematic beaches with the greatest number of positive bacteria tests continue to be on the harbor side of Park Point, in warmer, shallower waters.
Of the five trouble spots, two Park Point harborside locations — at Hearding Island and the new Duluth Boat Club — accounted for 129 advisory days, or 73 percent of all health advisories. Another problem area this year was the Lakewalk site near downtown.
“It’s clear that the majority of repeat closures occurred at just a few sites," said Amy Westbrook, state epidemiologist in Duluth. Westbrook said the department is working with research and regulatory agencies “to investigate what might be done to determine the reasons for the repeat problems at these few beaches and then what might be done to improve the water quality at those beaches.’’
It was the first full season of testing by the health department, which took over the program from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in 2010 when only a few weeks of tests were conducted.
In 2009, 24 beaches had no advisory events and seven had only one advisory. Those having problems generally were the same Park Point harbor locations as highlighted this year. But some results do vary from year to year, officials noted. For example, the Clyde Avenue boat landing on the St. Louis River had 32 advisory days in 2009 but only nine this year.
The tests were not conducted during the three weeks the state government was shut down in July.