Marion Reservoir Swimming Beach Closed Due To E. Coli

By: Jared Cerullo Email
By: Jared Cerullo Email

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Heavy rain across parts of KAKEland hasn't just caused flooding problems. It's also caused concerns of potentially deadly bacteria from drainage and runoff. The Army Corps of Engineers has closed a beach in Marion County and issued a no swimming order because of high levels of E. coli.

"I wish it wasn't that way, but Mother Nature doesn't always agree with us," said Jerry Redinger, who's family camping plans at Marion were washed up this week.

The Redinger family looks forward to their vacation at Marion Lake every year, but this year they were saddened to learn that the beach where they always camp is closed because of dangerous levels of E. coli bacteria.

"We're working with several other agencies including the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in order to try to determine and rectify the problem," said park ranger Neal Whitaker.

The bacteria levels are likely caused by runoff from livestock fields after continued rain throughout the month of July. Some campgrounds have been under water for weeks. Two consecutive E. coli tests showed levels three times that which is considered safe at Cottonwood Point, but other parts of the lake are safe.

"It's a minor inconvenience for them," said Whitaker, "but I believe when they consider the alternatives, they're happy that we do what we do."

"That's the reason we always like camping here," Redinger explains. "The kids can always go down to the swimming area there and it works real good for us because it's real close."

At Marion, the lake has consistently been two-to-three feet higher than normal for the last six weeks and that's even after several releases into the Cottonwood River.

"In the month of July, we've had nearly 8 inches of rain and in the last three weekends alone, we've had to close some of our campsites in this park because they're flooded," said Whitaker.

Park rangers tell KAKE News they hope to have Cottonwood Point open within the next couple days barring any more rainfall. If that happens, it will likely cause a more problems.

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