Unhealthy levels of bacteria found in Lake Alvin, swimming prohibited

Local News

LAKE ALVIN, S.D. (KELO) — A popular lake just south of Sioux Falls remains closed to swimmers, which is too bad on a hot day like today. The park service reports high levels of bacteria in Lake Alvin, so they temporarily banned swimming.

“It’s close to Sioux Falls and it’s just a good area to come out and spend the day,” Jim Henning said.

Jim Henning with the game Fish & Parks Department knows how popular Lake Alvin can be. Today you could find people strolling along the beach, but the water is off limits to swimmers.

Last week testing found high levels of bacteria, which of course can make people sick.

“After we had a positive test for bacteria, we did another test and it tested positive once again so we took the precautions of closing the beach,” Henning said.

Tom Hanson: What kind of bacteria are you guys finding?

Jim Henning: We test for E. Coli and that’s a good indicator of other levels of bacteria being high as well.”

The ban on swimming which started last week can be blamed directly on all the heavy rain we’ve had lately.

“Normally the levels of bacteria aren’t much of a problem even on a normal rain year, but when we have these big events, like 5 and 6 inches of rain that’s when you know you get all this run off that carries contaminates from surrounding areas into the watershed and then that’s when we have to be careful,” Henning said.

The CDC calls it recreational water illness. The most common symptoms are diarrhea, skin rashes, ear pain, cough or congestion, and eye pain. To avoid getting sick, the CDC says keep water out of your mouth when you swim. And dry your ears after you get out of the water.

When it comes to Lake Alvin the news isn’t all bad, fishing is safe and the lake is still open to kayaking and other forms of recreation.

Testing will continue, and the beach will reopen when the bacteria levels are safe again, which could be soon depending on the rain.

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