***June 13, 2016 Update*** Please note that the below articles are from the summer of 2014. Please go HERE to see a current (2016) release from GRDA that indicates that there are currently (June 13, 2016) no areas of concern in regards to public safety.


Glad to know there is progress on this issue that has brought some negative light to Grand Lake. The E.Coli levels seem to have been elevated because of “a naturally occurring event and not anything man-made.”

As has been noted throughout this whole process, Grand Lake is not closed! We have been swimming, wake boarding and doing everything we normally do…just not at Grand Lake State Park in Bernice…which is a tiny area of the lake anyway.

So, don’t change your plans…just look out for the Goose crap!

June 17th Update for GRDA:

Geese identified as bacteria source, beach remains closed

Results from the water samples taken at the Grand Lake State Park (Bernice) swimming area of Grand Lake last week are pointing towards geese as the culprit for the elevated levels of E.Coli and Enterococci. Those elevated bacteria levels led the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department to close the swim beach on Tuesday, June 3.

On Monday (June 16), GRDA and ODEQ announced that an independent testing laboratory in Tennessee had confirmed that the high levels of bacteria contained DNA from geese and perhaps another avian source. The results also gave the agencies confidence that the bacteria was not from human or cattle sources.

Because that particular stretch of shoreline is a favorite nesting area for a large population of geese, recent heavy rains in the area likely led to geese waste being washed into the water, leading to the elevated bacteria levels.

“When this swim area was initially closed in early June, the primary goal was to determine the source,” said GRDA Communications Director Justin Alberty. “These results show this to be a naturally occurring event and not anything man-made.”

Officials continue to monitor the situation and GRDA continues to gather daily samples from the swim beach area. Following a reassessment on Tuesday, June 17, officials made the decision to keep the swim area closed until the bacteria levels return to a safe range.

Throughout the two-week beach closure, GRDA has continued to stress that the incident is isolated to the swim beach area at Grand Lake State Park, and all other areas of Grand Lake remain open.

“Grand Lake is large, with plenty of other locations for swimming and access. This closure impacts a very small stretch of 1,300 miles of shoreline.” said Alberty. “Of course, we encourage the public to practice common sense and follow safe practices when swimming but we also remind everyone that the closure is for this one beach area only.”


 

June 10th Updated from GRDA:

Swim Beach to Remain Closed at Grand Lake State Park

Due to continued elevated levels of E.Coli and Enterococci in water samples taken from Grand Lake State Park (Bernice), the swim area of the park will remain closed. GRDA, along with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and the Oklahoma Water Resources Board will plan to reassess the situation on Tuesday, June 17. The swim area was initially closed June 3 due to elevated levels of the bacteria which exceed the OWRB standard for bodily contact.

“Because of the continued elevated levels of the bacteria in the area we will continue to be cautious and public safety remains a priority,” said GRDA Communications Director Justin Alberty. “At the same time, we are still actively investigating to determine the source for these elevated levels and will continue monitoring the area daily.”

GRDA continues to draw daily water samples from the area. Samples taken over the weekend continued to show levels exceeding OWRB standards, and additional samples, used to help determine the source of the bacteria have also been drawn and sent to an independent laboratory.

Alberty also stressed that the high bacteria presence appears to be isolated to this one location, with many other areas of Grand Lake still available for swimming and water recreation.

There are several activities on and around the lake this weekend such as Ugly’s Poker Run, along with a variety of fishing tournaments including the 2014 Fishin’ Pals Grand Challenge held on Saturday at Martin’s Landing. This is a youth/adult team challenge, and more information can be found at www.fishinpals.com. Cherokee Heritage Day is also this Saturday at Har-Ber Village in Grove (www.har-bervillage.com).

Additionally, GRDA has tours of the historic Pensacola Dam available each day through the summer. The tour originates at the GRDA Ecosystems and Education Center in Langley, and allows guests the opportunity for an up close look at Oklahoma’s first hydroelectric facility. The free tours are given daily (9AM – 4PM), between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. If you are planning to take the tour, keep in mind that every individual 18 years of age and older must present a valid driver’s license, state issued ID card or International Visa to tour the dam.


 

Updated Friday, June 6th, from GRDA:

Swim beach to remain closed through weekend 

The Grand River Dam Authority continues to draw daily water samples from an area of Grand Lake near the Grand Lake State Park (Bernice) to monitor the level of E.Coli and Enterococci in the water. Though the most recent water samples have indicated a decline in the bacteria levels, the swim beach at the park remains closed and the situation will be reassessed on Tuesday (June 10) when results from water samples collected over the weekend will be available.

GRDA is also joining the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe to make the public aware of elevated levels of E.coli, in an area of the lake about a half mile east of the Cowskin Bay Bridge on the Elk River arm of Grand Lake. Those levels were found during the Seneca-Cayuga Environmental Department’s testing in the area. Because the site is near the tribe’s ceremonial grounds, where the Strawberry Ceremonies will be held this weekend, GRDA and the tribe are asking the public to take precautions and use common sense when swimming in the area.

On Tuesday, (June 3) the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department closed the Grand Lake State Park swim beach after water samples from the area, taken by GRDA, showed levels of the bacteria that exceeded the Oklahoma Water Resources Board standards for bodily contact.

According to GRDA Spokesman Justin Alberty, the closure was done in the interest of public safety. At the same time though, GRDA is reminding the public that the high-level bacteria presence has only been found in very limited, small areas of the lake.

“What is important for the public to know is that water testing results confirm that these are isolated areas of concern. Grand Lake is large, with plenty of other locations for swimming and access. As always, we encourage the public to practice common sense and follow safe practices when swimming.”

Those safe practices include several swimming tips from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ):

  • Hold nose or wear nose plugs when jumping into the water.
  • Wash open skin cuts and scrapes with clean soap and water immediately after swimming.
  • Avoid swallowing water when swimming.
  • Wear ear plugs to prevent ear infections.
  • Wear swim goggles or masks to prevent eye infections.
  • Avoid swimming near storm drains (pipes that drain polluted water from streets).
  • Take children to the restroom frequently/Use swim diapers on infants.
  • Also, after swimming, always remember to wash hands with soap and water for a full 20 seconds before preparing or eating food.

GRDA continues to work with other state agencies to ensure a thorough investigation of the recent E.coli presence. Those agencies include the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and the Oklahoma Water Resources Board.


 

 

Below you will find the initial press releases from GRDA on the E.coli situation at Grand Lake.

According to varies news outlets, a handful of people have become ill over the past couple of days, and it’s the investigation of what prompted these swimmers to get sick that has led to the testing and discovery of the E.coli and Enterococci bacteria.

GRDA says that since an independent lab is testing the water to see if the E. coli is from human or animal waste, the beach will likely be closed until at least Friday regardless of what the latest testing shows.

It’s important to note that GRAND LAKE IS NOT CLOSED!

There are still many great things going on in the coming weeks including on the water boat shows, a couple of 5k runs, a poker run, and much, much more.

But do pay heed to the words of GRDA and be cautious of where you swim as testing shows many areas of the lake do NOT show any elevated levels of E.coli or anything else that may harm you.

This is a reminder of what I tell people every single time I see someone jump into Grand Lake…Don’t Drink The Water!


 

Update

GRDA issued another press release on the E.coli situation at Grand Lake State Park in Bernice earlier today, Wednesday June 4th. That press release is as follows:

Wednesday, June 4 update:

Grand Lake Park swim beach remains closed, investigation into E.coli presence continues

VINITA, Okla. – The Grand River Dam Authority is reporting that its latest round of water samples — taken from the Grand Lake State Park (Bernice) swimming area on Tuesday (June 3) — continued to show elevated levels of E.coli and Enterococci bacteria. Those elevated levels are what prompted the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department to close the park’s swim beach for an initial 48 hour period on Tuesday. These latest sample results have extended the closing until at least Friday, when more testing results will be available.

“Because of the continued elevated levels of E.Coli and Enterococci in the area we will continue to be cautious and keep public safety as the priority,” said GRDA Communications Director Justin Alberty. “At the same time, we are still actively investigating to determine the source for these elevated levels.”

Alberty also stressed that the high bacteria presence appears to be isolated to this one location, with many other areas of Grand Lake still available for swimming and water recreation.

“Like you would any time you visit the water, we just ask you to use common sense and follow safe swimming practices,” he said.

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) offers the following tips swimmers should keep in mind:

  • Hold nose or wear nose plugs when jumping into the water.
  • Wash open skin cuts and scrapes with clean soap and water immediately after swimming.
  • Avoid swallowing water when swimming.
  • Wear ear plugs to prevent ear infections.
  • Wear swim goggles or masks to prevent eye infections.
  • Avoid swimming near storm drains (pipes that drain polluted water from streets).
  • Take children to the restroom frequently/Use swim diapers on infants.
  • Also, after swimming, always remember to wash hands with soap and water for a full 20 seconds before preparing or eating food.

GRDA continues to work with other state agencies to ensure a thorough investigation of the recent E.coli presence. Those agencies include the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and the Oklahoma Water Resources Board.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, E. coli is normally found in the digestive tracts of humans and animals. Most strains of E. coli are harmless, but others can cause illness. Some kinds cause diarrhea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, pneumonia, and other illnesses. Persons may develop illness if they swallow or aspirate contaminated lake water, or touch something that is contaminated with the bacteria and place it in their mouth.

The time between exposure and feeling sick is variable depending on the type of E. coli ingested ranging from several hours to as long as 10 days. Symptoms of gastrointestinal illness associated with E. coli diarrhea generally include mild belly pain, nausea, bloating, vomiting, or non-bloody diarrhea.

If you recently swam, waded or splashed in the water at Grand Lake State Park and experience diarrhea that lasts for more than three days, or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine, please see your health care provider for medical evaluation and treatment.


 

Here is the initial press release from GRDA on the presence of E.coli and Enterococci bacteria at Grand Lake. This press release came out Tuesday afternoon, June 3rd.

State temporarily closes Grand Lake State Park area of Grand Lake

Water samples from area indicate presence of E.coli and Enterococci bacteria

VINITA, Okla. – The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department has closed the swimming area of Grand Lake State Park (Bernice) after the Grand River Dam Authority discovered the presence of E.coli and Enterococci in water samples taken from the area. Those samples showed the levels of bacteria exceeded the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) standards for bodily contact with water. The area will remain closed to the public for at least 48 hours until additional water samples are evaluated.

“Public safety is our top priority.” said Justin Alberty, GRDA spokesperson. “At this time, it appears this is an isolated area of Grand Lake that is being impacted. We have not determined the cause yet but are actively investigating at this time. We constantly monitor the water quality of bodies of water overseen by GRDA and will continue to keep the public informed as we learn more. Until that time, we recommend that lake users avoid this area of the park.”

GRDA regularly monitors water quality on its lakes using various methods. One method utilizes electronic water quality profilers. These profilers include electronic probes on pulley systems in front of the dams at each GRDA-managed lake. The probes are dropped every three feet to calibrate and take readings of the water. They monitor the water quality from the surface all the way to the bottom of the lake. The GRDA Ecosystems Management Department also takes water samples from several permanent locations across both Grand and Hudson lakes on a regular basis.

GRDA is currently analyzing samples from the area in the water laboratory at the GRDA Ecosystems and Education Center in Langley. Other samples are being sent to an independent state-certified lab for additional testing and confirmation of GRDA findings.

GRDA is working collaboratively with other state agencies to ensure a thorough investigation of the recent E.coli and Enterococci presence. Those agencies include the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, Oklahoma Water Resources Board.