What are Indiana’s Water Quality Standards for E. coli?
Indiana’s Water Quality Standards (327 IAC 2-1.5-8 (e)), specify that for full body contact, E. coli counts shall not exceed 235 colonies per 100 milliliters as a one-time sample or 126 colonies per 100 milliliters as a geometric mean of not less than 5 samples equally spaced over a 30 day period. “Full body contact” means the direct contact with the water to the point of complete submergence (i.e., swimming).
How can I find out the Status of other Lake Michigan beaches in Indiana?
For information concerning Indiana’s other beaches visit www.earth911.org. Information concerning Indiana Dunes State Park is also available by calling (219) 926-1952.
What are swimming related illnesses?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), swimming, one of the most popular activities in the country, is a fun, active, and healthy way to spend leisure time. Every year, millions of people visit “recreational water” sites, such as swimming pools, water parks, hot tubs, lakes, rivers, or the ocean. Over the past century, the use of modern disinfection systems in pools and environmental improvements in our lakes, rivers, and oceans has improved the quality of recreational water. Despite this, however, there are certain illnesses that are associated with swimming. These swimming related illnesses are caused by microorganisms (e.g., bacteria, viruses, and protozoa) in the water.
According to the CDC, of the different illnesses that may be contracted during recreational water activities, gastrointestinal illness is the primary concern. The main route of exposure to illness-causing organisms in recreational waters is through direct contact with water while swimming, most commonly through accidental ingestion of contaminated water. Gastroenteritis is a term for a variety of diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract and are rarely life-threatening. Symptoms of the illness include nausea, vomiting, stomachache, diarrhea, headache, and fever. Although the most common effects of bathing in contaminated water are illnesses affecting the gastrointestinal tract, other illnesses and conditions affecting the eye, ear, skin, and upper respiratory tract can be contracted as well.
How do beach managers monitor the water quality at their beaches?
In lakes and rivers, it is very difficult to detect the presence of the microorganisms that actually cause swimming related illnesses. Therefore, beach managers test for levels of bacteria in the water that can be associated with contamination from sewage or other sources of contamination and which may indicate the potential presence of human pathogens in the water. These “indicator” organisms generally do not cause illness directly. The most common indicator bacteria monitored in freshwater is Escherichia coli (E. coli). Although most E. coli do not cause illness, some less common pathogenic E. coli strains do cause illness (often associated with food contamination). In addition to E. coli have been show to live naturally in soils and sands, and thus are not always indicative of contamination. Generally, it is the level of non-pathogenic E.coli that is reflected in the bacteria levels reported for water quality monitoring. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency completed studies that correlated the levels of indicator E. coli to swimming related illnesses.