Testing for Swimming and Drinking


Coliforms

Total coliform bacteria generally peak during high levels of runoff as a result of heavy or continuous rain.  This is especially found where shorelines have been changed to allow runoff to sweep into the lake.  E. Coli levels may increase at the same time, especially when septic systems are not working properly.

Why is this important?

In abundance, E. coli indicates contamination from the excreta of warm-blooded animals (including humans) and may pose an immediate health risk.  Guidelines indicate the sampling site is unsuitable for recreational water sports when:

  • E. Coli (EC) exceeds 200 cfu/100ml* and/or
  • Total Coliform (TC) exceeds 1,000 cfu/100ml

SLCO volunteers will resample when these values are exceeded. 

* Colony forming Units - A unit used for estimating the number of visible bacteria in a sample.

What the results show

The following graphs show the Total Coliform (TC) and E. Coli (EC) trends of annual testing at Skeleton Lakes eight test sights.  

You will notice a disturbing trend in the E. Coli counts in many locations.  Coupled with an increasing phosphorus (P) and Total Coliforms (TC) there is the potential for the growth of toxic algae blooms ... if we do nothing. 

The answer to the question Can I Drink the Water?  Many still do with no ill affects.  However, the standard for safe drinking water is EC = 0.  Therefore we recommend that all drinking water, whether from a well or the lake, be sterilized for safety. 

What can you do?  

Check out some of these great resources and start your own best practices!

Results by Test Location

Please not the vertical axis's on the charts for TC and EC vary to reflect the different significance between these two items and also by area reflecting the swing in results.

























All testing on Skeleton Lake is completed according to recommended standards but not to frequency levels generally used for statistical evaluation. Therefore the above graphs should only be taken as an indication of values.  In most cases retest values are lower than the peaks shown in the graphs.

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