E. coli causes closure of Lincoln State Park beach


LINCOLN CITY — The beach at Lincoln State Park is closed until further notice due to E. coli.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources tests the water in its lakes weekly, and this week’s test at Lincoln State Park showed a level of E. coli that exceeds the limit for beaches, leading to the closure. Although generally harmless, some strains of E. coli can cause sickness.

“Safety is our top priority,” said Tara Wolf, communications director for Indiana’s DNR.

This is the first time in 10 years the beach has had to close due to the bacteria, she said.

According to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, E. coli refers to a large, diverse group of bacteria found in the environment and the bodies of warm-blooded animals, including humans. Most strains are harmless, but others can cause illnesses. Others can be a marker for water contamination.

Several natural sources of E. coli could have led to the results of Lincoln State Park’s water test. IDEM lists sewer overflow from heavy rain, waste from wildlife and runoff from farmland and streets as possible sources of E. coli. In the case of Lincoln State Park, recent rains could be the cause of the test results.

“We can’t guarantee that,” Wolf said. “But it could be the source.”

DNR officials at Lincoln State Park submitted another water sample today, and Wolf expects the results by the end of the day. If today’s sample again shows a level of E. coli over the limit, the beach will remain closed, and officials will continue to test the water daily. Once a sample shows E. coli levels within accepted limits, the beach will reopen. The rest of the park will remain open.

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