In 2018, the City of Elk River voluntarily began weekly E. coli (Escherichia coli) testing, as recommended by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency at Lake Orono’s beach area. While this testing is not a state mandate, the city feels it is important to inform residents and beach-goers when elevated levels of E. coli are present.
Each week from Memorial Day to Labor Day, staff sample water from three different locations along the beach area which are then sent to a local water quality lab. The results are ready within a day or two, and if elevated levels are found signs are posted around the Lake Orono beach area. Many factors can contribute to increased bacteria in recreational water bodies, including significant rainfall and disruptions/changes to the lake’s watershed which eventually makes its way into the lake.
A unique benefit of Lake Orono is because it is fed from the Elk River, water moves in and out relatively quickly and in just 3-4 days the lake has completely turned over. In the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” it is important to remember even the clearest of lakes contains contaminants. Never drink the water, do not swim if you’re feeling ill, and bring little ones to the restroom frequently. These health factors are even more important in light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Remember to practice social distancing when visiting the beach or parks, and keep in mind amenities like benches, drinking fountains, fishing pier/dock equipment, etc. are not sanitized.