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Cause of bacteria at Beltzville not known

Published August 07. 2014 04:00PM

For the sixth time this summer, Beltzville State Park closed its waters to swimming due to high bacterial counts in a sample taken on Monday. The closing was effective Wednesday morning.

According to Terry Brady, deputy press secretary for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, "it's a pre-emptive safety move."

He said that there have been no reports of swimmers becoming sick, so it is not necessary to close the park for the remainder of the summer.

The park is still open to picnicking, boating, fishing and hiking, but Brady said that swimming is potentially harmful if someone were to swallow the water.

"As for the cause," he said, "the jury is out."

Following the park's first few closings this summer, the Bureau of State Parks began to investigate the abundance of geese around the area.

Because the geese are experiencing a period where they do not fly, the DCNR thought perhaps the birds were overgrazing on nearby food sources, causing an excess in excrement that was washing into the water.

Still, all possible causes are being considered.

The DCNR has undergone extensive efforts to find the source of high bacteria levels by checking water lines, sewer lines and even vacuuming the lake floor, Brady said.

It is possible that no absolute cause will be determined.

Contrary to popular belief, people probably aren't to blame, Brady said.

"It's the nature of a natural lake. It doesn't need people or fish to have high bacterial counts. We're not pointing the finger at the bathers."

He said that new test samples were planned for Wednesday morning, and the results will be available by early Friday.

He predicts that Beltzville will have safe bacteria counts for swimming this weekend.

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