ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
Summer is still three weeks away, but an all-too-familiar aspect of it, high bacteria levels at Lake Shore Park’s beach, is already with us.
Anthony Paneto, head lifeguard at the beach, said the high bacteria levels were posted Saturday and remained in place throughout the holiday weekend.
According to the Web site, www.odh.ohio.gov, most Lake Erie
beaches are sampled four times a week during the swimming season for the presence of E. coli bacteria, which can cause illness. When the amount of bacteria exceeds state standards, beaches are posted with warning signs advising people not to swim in the water.
On May 27, the most recent date for which data was available, Lake Shore Park’s E. coli account was 345. At Conneaut Township Park, the count was 112; at Geneva State Park, 24; and at Walnut Beach, 11.
The water at Lake Shore Park is enclosed by a series of breakwalls, which limits the amount of refreshing that can occur, said Jarod Artman, a lifeguard there. The presence of Canada geese and their droppings on the beach add to the problem.
Paneto said visitors to the beach this weekend seemed to be ignoring the warnings.
“I’ve been here three years and (Sunday) was one of the most packed days we’ve ever seen. It seems like people didn’t care about the bad bacteria levels,” Paneto said.
While the crowd was relatively thin on Monday morning, parents were not terribly concerned about allowing their children to play in the chilly water.
“I noticed it, but I’m not real concerned about it,” said Heath Maki, who was at the beach with his wife and step-children.
Several of the mothers who came to the beach with their children Monday morning said they didn’t notice the warnings on the three signs posted at the entrance to the beach. Ron Shupp said he was so accustomed to seeing the warnings last year, he figured they had not been updated for 2010.