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POLK CITY, IOWA — Iowans looking to escape the heat this week are being greeted by warnings at nearly a dozen state beaches saying “swimming not recommended” or “swimming discouraged” due to high levels of E. coli in the water.

“Routine water quality monitoring is conducted at all of the State Park beaches and many locally managed beaches in Iowa,” says the Iowa DNR Beach Advisory website, “In order to help protect the health of those wishing to recreate at the beaches, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources works with various public health and management agencies throughout the state to inform the public of the most current water quality conditions.”

At Big Creek State Park Beach, some patrons were not aware of the “swimming not recommended,” advisory.

“I was really shocked when we drove up, thought there would not be a lot of people up here today and kind of one of the reasons I came up,” said Rick Thompson of Ankeny, “Come to find out that it’s levels are a little high, so I’m not too concerned about it,  it said it’s recommended you not  swim, but they didn’t recommend you couldn’t swim either.”

At Big Creek Marina next door owner Mark Crawford has seen the E. coli rise and fall before.

“You know will have a spike in the E. coli, it’s usually after a flushing rain and it will go up are usually a little bit of time and then it goes right back down,” said Crawford.  “We’ve had a couple weeks where we had some heavy rain in so it’s is shot up.”

Crawford said he expect after testing on Tuesday, the level will go down and swimming will be okay again.

Based on the DNR’s Beach Monitoring, swimming is not recommended at the following beaches:

  • Backbone Beach, Backbone State Park
  • Beed’s Lake Beach, Beed’s Lake State Park
  • Black Hawk Beach, Black Hawk State Park
  • Big Creek Beach, Big Creek State Park
  • Emerson Bay Beach, Emerson Bay State Recreation Area
  • Geode Lake Beach, Geode State Park
  • George Wyth Beach, George Wyth Memorial State Park
  • Green Valley Beach, Green Valley State Park
  • Lake Darling Beach, Lake Darling State Park
  • Pine Lake South Beach, Pine Lake State Park
  • Prairie Rose Beach, Prairie Rose State Park

The DNR has also closed the beach at Lake of Three Fires State Park because a Missouri resident, who has since died, was likely infected with a brain-eating amoeba while swimming in the lake.