Lake Safety takes center stage in talks with County Officials
We recognize that there is much concern about the status of using the Lake as the recreational season is rapidly approaching. There has been much going on in the background to address the issue that was not reportable because an integrated program had not been fully developed or agreed to. On Monday,April 9 LWA met with the County to discuss the status of the Lake Health Advisory and how we move forward. LWA representatives attending the meeting included GM, Bob Mariani, Board Liaison to the Lake Committee, Fred Peterson, and Lake Committee Members, John Norton and Bill Yanko.
The Meeting Agenda prepared by the County included five major discussion topics. These were (1) Update to Dr. Griffith’s (County Consultant) Draft Plan, (2) LWW Testing, when will Bill Yanko’s proposed testing protocol begin and how will results be reported, (3) Status of the Public Health advisory, (4) The geese, and (5) Town Hall Meeting. We will briefly summarize each of these Agenda items.
1. The County reported that they had still not received a report from Dr. Griffith outlining his recommendations for how to proceed with investigating the source of the E. coli O157:H7 that caused the infections.
They indicated they were contacting him weekly and that he understood the importance of the issue locally. They were still anticipating his report before Memorial Day.
2. Bill Yanko, our resident Environmental Microbiology advisor, had proposed an expanded comprehensive monitoring program to address the Lake concerns and provide the necessary data to assess the potential health risks associated with using the Lake. The County indicated that Bill’s proposed program was good and will be incorporated into the plan being recommended by Dr. Griffith. Our new testing program will begin April 30.
Bill reviewed the testing plan and updated it with new information. Simplified test procedures have been developed for the food industry that permit process monitoring for E. coli O157:H7 in food production facilities.
Bill proposed adapting these procedures to test for the presence of the O157 strain in our lake samples.
County Public Health indicated they thought this would be a significant addition to our ability to assess recreational risk.
Bill also discussed that he had discussions with a laboratory in San Francisco that could do “source tracking” analyses that would help confirm the source of the high E. coli readings observed at the shore line, assuming we see a recurrence of that phenomenon again this year.
We also discussed our plans in progress for providing lake testing information to the community.
We have proposed a comprehensive communication program that will include articles in TWI, notices in e-Bits, e-blasts, a webpage reporting test data, and signage at the beaches.
The proposed beach signs will include the link to the website and a QR code so anyone can access the most current data right at the beach using their cell phone.
The microbial monitoring data is complex, and we are still working on developing the reporting format. County staff indicated they were very encouraged by our proactive approach.
Dr. Cutler, the County Public Health Officer, indicated he was very positive about the efforts of the Association, but he remained uncomfortable about completely removing the swimming advisory until they get the recommendations from Dr. Griffith, and we start reporting our test data for this year.
The advisory will remain that people avoid activities that result in swallowing lake water.
Given the proposed Association testing programand our plans to provide access to data and rapidly issue advisories as appropriate, Dr. Cutler pointed out that the County advisory is a recommendation to use your own judgement based on the information you have.
There is no enforcement of an advisory. It is the goal of the Association to provide the best information we can.
It is recognized that there is always some risk associated with water-based recreation in lakes, streams and ocean beaches.
4. Dr. Cutler indicated that he had been pursuing the question of the geese with California Fish & Wildlife.
He indicated he got the same response we had received; the State does not feel the available data implicating the geese are adequate to grant a depredation permit.
They did agree that there is a legitimate question, and the State has offered to round up and capture the geese during the molting period in order to collect fecal samples from individual geese in order to test them for the O157 strain.
This effort may finally establish if the geese are harboring the E. coli O157:H7 strain.
If they test negative, it does not answer the question of whether geese may have been transient vectors transporting the infection from cattle grazing pastures back to the Lake.
We may be seeking volunteers to help with the goose roundup for the sampling.
Watch for more information on that.
5. LWA and the County agreed to do a joint Town Hall meeting to review what has been done to investigate the outbreak, the public health concerns, LWA’s proposed expanded monitoring program, and Dr. Griffith’s proposal to find the source of the outbreak.
It was proposed that the Town Hall be scheduled for mid-May before Memorial Day.
The County hoped to have Dr. Griffith’s proposal before the meeting but agreed that holding the meeting was important even if they did not.
We are still in the process of selecting a date.
— Bob Mariani, General Manager
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