Blue Mounds State Park finds E. coli in water system
LUVERNE — Blue Mounds State Park Manager Chris Ingebretsen is hoping follow-up testing completed Monday by the Minnesota Department of Health will provide the all-clear after the park’s main water system tested positive for E. coli bacteria last week.
Signs are now displayed throughout the park north of Luverne advising campers not to drink, cook with or use the water to wash dishes. Showering with the water is OK, although not advised for young children who could potentially swallow it.
Ingebretsen said the health department discovered the bacteria during a May 12 test on the park’s two water systems. While the system serving the office and main campground tested positive for E. coli, the second, smaller water system that serves the picnic grounds, group camp and rustic sites is safe.
“We chlorinated the system following Minnesota Department of Health guidelines,” Ingebretsen said. At this point, he added, it isn’t known if the E. coli bacteria is in the well itself or the water system’s pipes.
Results of Monday’s testing will not be available until later today, Ingebretsen said.
“At this point, we don’t have any indication of how it got in the system,” he explained. “Bacterial contaminations can happen anytime a water pipe is opened up.”
In a seasonal campground like the one at Blue Mounds State Park, Ingebretsen said the pipes are opened twice per year.
This isn’t the first time E. coli has been found on a water source in the park. About six months ago — in the middle of winter — Ingebretsen said the bacteria was discovered on a faucet that has never been for public use. Following treatment, follow-up testing was negative for the bacteria.
Ingebretsen is hoping for the same results this time, especially with the Memorial Day weekend quickly approaching.
“I really hope it’s cleared up,” he said. “If we don’t have results (Tuesday) that are satisfactory, we will be sending out emails to all of our campers ... and offering them other choices if they are not comfortable coming.”
Meanwhile, the park has adjusted its camping rates to the off-peak rate typically charged when showers aren’t available. At the same time, Ingebretsen said campers will be provided with gallon jugs of water, free of charge, for cooking and drinking. Campers are also encouraged to bring their own water in until the water in the main campground is once again safe to use.
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.