More Beach Closings and No Swim Advisory
On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Lake Wildwood staff, I want to let you know that along with all of you, our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals, and their families, who were at the Community Center beach and became ill. We fully understand your concerns about the condition of the Lake and are also very concerned. As more information is available, we will do our best to disseminate it to you in a very timely manner.
Although considerable information has been distributed by the County through the Association, some information regarding the Association’s maintenance program may be helpful so that you know what measures are taken to protect you and your families’ health and safety. Aside from regular maintenance to assure that the Lake is as clean as possible, such as debris removal and goose control, the Lake is tested weekly. An independent lab tests water samples for physical parameters, selected chemicals, and microbial contaminants. Because this type of comprehensive testing is not mandatory, it is NOT performed by many other private lake owners. However, the safety of the Lake Wildwood residents and their guests has always been a top priority. Therefore, the Association continues these tests weekly. These tests have indicated safe and acceptable levels of contaminants in Lake Wildwood for an extended period of time. As a result, the Association had not taken action to restrict use of the Lake until last weekend.
As you may know, several cases of individuals with symptoms consistent with E. coli exposure were reported late last week. Interviews with the individuals or parties connected to the individuals indicated that these individuals may have used the beach near the Community Center Pool. This information led to the County asking that the beach be closed. Lake Wildwood Association immediately complied with the request. The County then tested the water at that particular beach and found that there was a high level of fecal coliform near the shoreline. This test result led to the beach closure remaining in place and issuance of a “no swim” advisory for the entire Lake. Since that time, the County has tested other beach areas near the shoreline. From their test results, the County determined a need for posted closure notices at these other beach areas.
It may be helpful to know there are many types of E. coli. Most are not harmful but some can cause severe illness. According to the information I have been given, it would be very unusual for a body of water such as Lake Wildwood to NOT have several types of E. coli present. It’s the level of E. coli that indicates an increasing risk. Therefore, if the Association were to get results from one of our weekly tests that showed unsafe levels of E. coli in a swim area, the Association would close that swim area immediately and follow-up with more testing as described above. Once the testing showed safe levels of E.coli, the area would be opened. Keep in mind that even if high levels of E. coli are found in an area, that does not mean that people who came in contact with the E. coli would necessarily become ill.
The Association is working with the County to determine the cause of the elevated levels of coliform. Trisha Tillotson, Nevada County Director of Public Works, informed me today that the County has exhausted all testing pertaining to sewer leakage into the Lake and found no sewer leaking into the Lake.
What do we expect to occur in the near future? The County has indicated that they will test twice a week in seven different locations until test levels are such that the beaches can be opened. The Association will also continue our weekly testing. In addition to the testing, I have requested a meeting with the heads of the Nevada County’s Public Works Department, Environmental Health Department, and Public Health Department. The desired conclusion of this meeting will be to formulate a plan to work together and find a way to safely open Lake Wildwood beaches and provide safe swimming conditions for our residents.
Last but not least, the Association’s most recent test result came in today. We sampled the shallow water along the shoreline in addition to the somewhat deeper water in the swim zone where we usually test per USEPA approved methods. Our results for the deeper water in the swim zone met recreational limits, as we usually see, but we observed high E. coli counts in the shallow water at some of our beaches, consistent with the County reports.
Please be assured that every effort is being made to find the cause of this problem and re-open the Lake as soon as it is determined to be safe. As we have more information, you will be notified.
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