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Bacteria Levels Under Control at Bloomington Beach

An innovative treatment has reduced dangerous levels of E. coli at Bush Lake Beach to a level safe enough to open the beach for swimmers this summer, said Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead at a city council meeting Monday.

“I think that we were very successful at reducing the level of E. coli in the water,� Winstead said. He made his remarks after a presentation about current beach conditions from Bloomington’s Environment and Health advisor, Karen Zeleznak.

Warm weather, warm water and bird droppings all contributed to E. coli growth in 2006, causing the city to close the beach to all visitors for a portion of the summer season. The city council assigned the Advisory Board of Health to evaluate the situation.

Jeff Luedeman, the coordinator for Bloomington’s Environmental Health Program, said the city decided to try a new type of treatment for E. coli that attacked the bacteria where it is bred most: In the sand where seagulls congregate.

Between July 13 and Aug. 24 of last year, the city applied a diluted chlorine bleach solution onto the shore in a 12-foot swath from the water’s edge. Preliminary results show that the bacteria were reduced to well below the threshold required for beach closure.

The city expects Bush Lake Beach to remain open to swimmers this summer.

“City staff will continue to monitor water quality twice a week starting in late May through Labor Day weekend,� Luedeman said.

--Molly George