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At Blue Mounds State Park, 2014 water woes carrying over into this year

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A state park in southwestern Minnesota that had the blues in 2014 will find relief only very gradually this year.

At Blue Mounds State Park, a double whammy of contaminated water followed by flood damage created inconvenience and uncertainty, with some questions unlikely to be answered until well into the new year, the Worthington Daily Globe reports.

It was still springtime when E. coli bacteria turned up in the water supply. That discovery meant campers had to bring their own water with them, dampening the flow of visitors during the usually-popular early weeks of summer.

The following month things got more than damp when torrential rains produced floodwaters that blew out a dam spillway protecting the park's swimming beach, which is Rock County's only water recreation site, the Globe says.

Blue Mounds State Park manager Chris Ingebretsen tells the Globe the drilling of a new, deeper well wrapped up in April, and he expects the park will have potable water again this spring.

As for repairing the dam structure on Mill Creek (pictured above before the floods), Ingebretsen says the state is still awaiting a ruling from FEMA on whether the flood damage qualifies for rebuilding money from the federal government.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is sizing up the pros and cons of having the dam, as it considers whether to rebuild it. No dam means less sediment, cleaner water, and more habitat for an endangered fish species, the Topeka Shiner.

On the other hand, closing the swimming beach for good would reduce visitors and revenue at one of southwestern Minnesota's few state parks, where renting canoes and kayaks has been been part of the fun.

There are plenty of other ways to have fun at Blue Mounds, though, ranging from hiking and rock climbing to viewing tallgrass prairie and the state's biggest free-roaming bison herd. Find a photo tour here.

Park managers just hope that this year's rains won't be accompanied by an outpouring of problems.

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