By Steven Bonifazi
(AURORA, Colo.) Cherry Creek State Park's swim area has been closed temporarily due to routine water quality tests containing high E. coli bacteria levels.
The water quality tests are performed to meet Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) requirements, according to a press release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). The release also stated that the beach area and activities from boating and waterskiing to paddleboarding and fishing will remain open to the public as only the swim beach area is closed.
"These closures are not a common occurrence, but can be caused by fecal waste from wildlife, run-off from urban areas, or excessive run-off from rain, which we have had a lot of lately,” said Cherry Creek State Park Manager Jason Trujillo. ”There is still a lot of water coming into the reservoir, which is a good thing to be this full in July, but that is potentially the cause of our elevated samples.”
Every day the water gets tested so that officials can monitor the situation so that the swim area can be reopened once bacteria levels meet CDPHE standards. The CDPHE and the Colorado Board of Health make the testing mandatory during the swimming season so that public health and safety are ensured.
Water quality samples are analyzed for fecal matter or E. coli. The beach is required to be closed if E. coli concentration is above 235 organisms per 100 milliliters and will remain closed until E. coli results return to safe levels.
Fortunately, Chatfield State Park's swim beach in Littleton reopened Wednesday after closing Tuesday when two test readings came back as above the CDPHE-defined levels. There was retesting that took place on Tuesday, with laboratory tests coming back Wednesday showing signs of safe levels.
“Additional tests taken from our swim beach were shown to be well below the levels the CDPHE procedures warrant for a closure,” said Ben Vinci, Chatfield State Park operations manager. “We had the one irregular sample that caused us to close the swim beach on Tuesday out of an abundance of caution, but the rest of our samples this year have been below the maximum limit."
For more information regarding when the Cherry Creek State Park swim area will reopen, click here.
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