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Paynesville Press - August 25, 2004

Rice Lake test results inconclusive

By Michael Jacobson

Testing for fecal coliform bacteria in Rice Lake is completed, with the results proving inconclusive.

Following a test in June that revealed high levels of fecal coliform in the lake, the Rice Lake Association completed another four tests in the following month, ending in late July. While another test showed high levels of fecal coliform, three tests showed low levels.

Testing results were: 555 colonies per 100mL on June 28; 30 colonies per 100mL on July 15; 2.5 colonies per 100mL on July 16; 1,648 colonies per 100mL on July 20; and 28 colonies per 100mL on July 26.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency uses a standard of five tests over 200 colonies per 100mL in a 30-day period to post swimming advisories. That will not be done on Rice Lake, in part because the samples were completely random and were not done systematicallyÉi.e. samples taken from the same place for each test.

No official warning will be issued, but swimmers should be aware when heading to a local lake. Fecal coliform is a health hazard in addition to a water pollutant causing algae blooms.

The MPCA recommends the following advice to swimmers in bacteria-contaminated water. Do not swim if you are sick or if you have a weakened immune system. Do not swallow the water - try to keep your face and head out of the water. Always shower after swimming.

The Rice Lake Association has not identified a specific source for the fecal coliform in the lake but will continue to focus on its lake management plan, which has a primary goal of improving water quality in the lake by addressing all sorts of potential pollutants in the lakeshed. Possible sources of bacteria in water, according to the MPCA, include malfunctioning sewage systems, storm runoff, animal waste, agriculture runoff, and bather defecation.

Rice Lake is located three miles east of Paynesville. It is two miles upstream from Lake Koronis, with the lakes being connected by the North Fork of the Crow River.

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