High Levels of E. Coli Found at Popular Swimming Area on Whiskeytown Lake

Photo by Chandler Hecht

To protect public health, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area monitors water quality regularly from May to September. Recent monitoring shows that the swim beach at Whiskey Creek Group Picnic Area has had elevated levels of E. coli, posing an increased risk to recreational users of this specific beach.

Because of the increased risk of contracting an illness, Whiskeytown NRA advises against swimming at the Whiskey Creek Group Picnic Area beach until further notice. The group picnic area itself remains open to boat-in and walk-in traffic.

E. Coli bacteria found in water is typically an indicator that some sort of fecal pollution has been placed in the water, typically from pets or wildlife. Without knowing the specific cause of the high E. Coli levels, park officials are reminding the public not to feed the wildlife, specifically the Canada Geese that like to hang around the beach area and eat human food.

While E. Coli can certainly cause swimmers to get sick, it’s rare. Out of the more than 700 subspecies of E. Coli that exist, only a small number can cause illness in humans. Officials still don’t know exactly how high the levels of E. Coli are and will continue to use caution until they can determine the safety of swimming in the Swim Beach area of the lake. Although swimming is discouraged, the picnic area will remain open.

You can help keep park beaches clean and safe by abiding by the following:

DO NOT FEED WILDLIFE. Whiskeytown’s Canada geese mostly live off of unnatural human food that visitors feed them. They also eat park litter and food scraps that are left behind. Since a single goose defecates approximately one to three pounds per day, they are the most likely culprit of the park’s water quality issues.

DISPOSE OF ALL TRASH AND FOOD SCRAPS IN THE BROWN, BEAR-PROOF TRASH CANS. Please pick up food scraps after picnicking and never leave food unattended.

SHOWER BEFORE GETTING INTO THE LAKE & PUT SWIM DIAPER ON BABIES AND TODDLERS. A shower before swimming can help keep the waters clean. Putting swim diapers on babies and toddlers that are not yet “potty trained” can help protect water quality as well.

USE THE RESTROOMS PROVIDED. Going to the bathroom “in Mother Nature” at Whiskeytown can pollute the water. Please only go to the bathroom in official restrooms.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


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