Two small lakes in Summit County are currently under contamination advisories after tests revealed high bacterial counts this month.
A sample taken at Wyoga Lake on Aug. 8 measured 275.5 cfu/100 ml in a coliform/E. coli test. The test determines the number of colony-forming units in a given amount of water and the relative health risks to swimmers. The state threshold is 235 cfu/100 ml.
The lake has been under the advisory since Aug. 10. The advisory is meant to alert individuals who are ill or have compromised immune systems of the increased health risks of swimming in contaminated waters.
The most common illness derived from lakes that test high for bacterial contamination is gastroenteritis, according to the Ohio Health Department. Other illnesses associated with swimming include eye, ear, nose and throat infections.
Tonia W. Burford, environmental health director at Summit County Public Health, said Thursday that advisories for Wyoga Lake and Crystal Lake in Silver Lake Village will remain throughout the swimming season because testing has ended for the year.
Burford said lakes with beaches can test high for a variety of reasons. One lake in the county, for instance, is plagued by geese waste.
“Different lakes have different problems,” Burford said, including animal waste, sewage overflow, rain runoff and lack of rain, which can concentrate bacterial growth.
The 65-acre private lake, which straddles Stow and Cuyahoga Falls, is owned by the Wyoga Lake Conservation Association.
Calls and emails to members of the Wyoga Lake Homeowners Association about the advisory were not returned by deadline Thursday.
In Silver Lake, Crystal Lake has been under a contamination advisory since Aug. 10, its second this year. Earlier, the lake was under an advisory for 14 days, starting on July 25.
A test on Aug. 7 measured 410.6 cfu/100 ml, well above the maximum threshold. Last year, an advisory that began on July 14 lasted for 24 days.
In July, Turkeyfoot Lake in New Franklin was under a contamination advisory that lasted 12 days. A Massillon woman who swam four straight days in the lake and became ill alleged that signage about the advisory wasn’t posted on the days she went swimming.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources disputed her assertions, but decided to post additional signage the next time an advisory requires that swimmers be notified.
Burford said operators of tested lakes in Summit County are notified of results and required to post signage when bacterial counts are too high.
"It’s one of their requirements so they remain in good standing for their license,” she said. “That’s the responsibility of the operator.”
Alan Ashworth can be reached at 330-224-7682 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @newsalanbeaconjournal.