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DNR Reports High E. Coli Levels at Three Coves in Lake of the Ozarks

For many folks around the Ozarks, summertime means weekends spent on the water. The Lake of the Ozarks draws thousands of visitors each summer to its waters, but recent tests done by the Department of Natural Resources indicate high levels of E. Coli in three separate coves. KSMU’s Samuel Crowe has details.

According to DNR, three out of 45 samples at the lake had E. Coli levels above the maximum recommended levels set by the EPA. Those were at Big Buffalo Creek Cove, Cole Camp Creek Cove, and Turkey Creek Cove.

Donna Swall, executive director of the Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance, shed light on what the results of the tests mean to lake visitors.

“We’re learning that E.Coli itself for the most part really doesn’t hurt a fella. But it’s what could come with it. So E. Coli becomes an indicator. But we learn also that the number one pollutant in Missouri waterways and actually the nation’s waterways is sediment from rainfall, storm water run-off.”

Swall and other members of the Watershed Alliance are working hard to keep the storm water on the river banks and out the lake. They recently held a workshop to inform lakeside residents of the importance of low impact landscaping. She says another workshop will be held June 25th at the Lodge at the Four Seasons.

“It’s our responsibility to become the good stewards of the lake and to do our part to protect the lake. So it’s beautiful yards for a healthy lake, and we’re going to not only make our yards hold the storm water, but we’re going to make them beautiful as well.”

Renee Bungart, a spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, offered tips for vacationers and residents alike on how to stay healthy.

“The general things to keep in mind is if you’re sick and have diarrhea, those people probably need to stay out of the water until they’re feeling better because, you know, those can contribute to concerns. Don’t swim if they have any open cuts or sores or wounds. If you do go swimming, make sure you take a shower afterwards, especially before you eat, you know, wash your hands, those kind of things.

Experts advise lake-goers to avoid swimming in the lake immediately after a rainfall, saying it’s better to wait a day or two for bacteria levels to come down.

For KSMU News, I’m Samuel Crowe.