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Nevada County to routinely test Lake Wildwood

Lake Wildwood sits idle as beach closures due to E.coli found in the water have prompted folks to stay out until water quality gets better.
Elias Funez/efunez@theunion.com |

Water samples from eight locations around Lake Wildwood will be collected and tested for elevated levels of E. coli bacteria every Monday and Thursday until conditions improve, The Nevada County Environmental Health Department said Tuesday.

The department closed Lake Wildwood’s Community Center Pool Beach July 28 when an investigation found that numerous individuals who reported experiencing symptoms of E. coli-related illness had all recently gone swimming in shallow water near the beach.

Eleven children and three adults have reported E. coli-related illness in connection with Lake Wildwood, the Nevada County Public Health Department said Tuesday afternoon. Nine of the affected individuals have been hospitalized and six have already been discharged.



Eleven have received test results confirming exposure to E. coli O157, a strain that can cause diarrhea, dehydration and other complications. The rest are waiting on test results, the department said.

The Environmental Health Department received results from an initial water test July 29 which showed elevated levels of E. coli bacteria near the Pool Beach, and issued a health advisory to all Lake Wildwood residents that day recommending no recreational swimming in the lake until initial beach areas were tested.




Additional tests found high levels of E. coli in shallow water near two other Lake Wildwood beaches on Aug. 1. Hideaway Park and Meadow Park beaches were closed that evening in addition to the continued closure of the Pool Beach, and a health advisory has remained in effect.

The Environmental Health Department said Tuesday it is still waiting on test results from samples taken Monday, but E. coli levels are expected to remain high.

Environmental Health Director Amy Irani said it’s “anybody’s guess” when the E. coli levels will drop.

“The inflow isn’t great because we’re in the non-rainy season, so only a little water comes in off Deer Creek,” Irani said.

The Nevada Irrigation District tested water samples from Deer Creek in an area close to where the creek enters Lake Wildwood and an area close to where it leaves the lake, according to Irani. She said both samples showed normal levels of bacteria and no safety concerns were identified in those areas.

The department is still looking for the source of elevated E. coli levels, Irani said.

The Nevada County Public Works Department tested for leaks in the Lake Wildwood area sewer lines by using an inert, non-toxic dye, the Public Health Department said in a news release Aug. 2.

According to Irani, the Public Works Department has also tested the area’s sewer lines with cameras to look for leaks.

“Though various tests have been conducted, the source of the contamination has not yet been determined,” the Aug. 2 release said. Irani said Tuesday the source is still unknown.

Bacteria testing is only being done in relatively shallow water because all of the affected individuals had been playing near the shoreline, Irani said. The Public Works Department, which is conducting the tests, has sampled waist-deep or shallower water. Water in the middle of the lake hasn’t been tested, Irani said, because bacteria levels would fluctuate greatly based on the location, and wouldn’t likely reveal any consistent results.

Irani said she can’t “make a safe assessment” whether it would be safe to swim from a boat in the middle of the lake.

“We just put out an advisory,” she said.

The Lake Wildwood Association has routinely tested lake water at 10 different locations 20 feet offshore on a weekly basis, according to Irani.

Representatives from the Lake Wildwood Association didn’t immediately return phone calls Tuesday.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.


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