Lake Leatherwood swim beach closes over E. coli levels

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

By Samantha Jones

For the time being, you can't swim at Lake Leatherwood City Park.

Tom Jones, senior environmental health specialist with the Arkansas Department of Health, said Lake Leatherwood's swim beach will be closed until tests reveal lower E. coli levels. Jones said the count was more than 127 per 100 milliliters during a recent test, which led to the beach being shut down. If you choose to swim in the water, Jones said, you'll see the effects.

"You could become deathly sick," Jones said. "There would be multiple problems, especially gastrointestinal."

Eureka Springs parks director Justin Huss said it's normal for E. coli levels to be high this time of the year.

"June and July are when the concentrations go up," Huss said. "It's unfortunate but not terribly uncommon."

The reason E. coli levels are so high, Jones said, is because of the local geese population. The geese track fecal matter from the beach to the water, he said.

"It's fecal contamination," Jones said.

For the beach to reopen, Jones said, he needs to see two consecutive tests showing appropriate E. coli levels.

"I'm waiting on re-sampling," Jones said. "I'll go into the database and get the information."

Huss said the most recent test occurred on Thursday, June 27.

"It's usually Wednesday or better that we hear back, but with the holiday week, you never know," Huss said. "We'll be back open soon. We just have to have two tests that meet parameters in a row before that can happen."

The City of Beaver Beach in Carroll County also is closed, the ADH said.

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