E. coli closes Lake McCarrons swimming beach

Routine testing found levels above recommended standards.
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The swimming beach at Lake McCarrons County Park is closed because of recent E. coli levels.

Ramsey County said Wednesday that routine testing turned up E. coli readings "above the recommended water quality standards." In response, they closed the swimming beach. 

It will remain in that state until June 9, at which point officials will conduct another test to determine a reopening date. 

All other Ramsey County beaches are currently open, the county said.

E. coli is commonly found in fecal waste. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says it's used as an "indicator organism," meaning its presence suggests there may be fecal waste there as well. Ramsey County tests the water quality at beaches from May through August every year, and says higher bacteria levels often come after rain, as different things get washed into the lake.

The E. coli bacteria is often harmless or can cause mild diarrhea, but in some cases can cause more serious issues, such as urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia. Children, older individuals and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk.

Ensia, which is published by the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, published a story last fall about E. coli in drinking water, and how the warming climate and bouts of drought will likely pose new challenges for keeping the bacteria out of our water.

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