Post-Flood Recreational Water Tests Show No Increase in Bacteria Levels

For Immediate Release: June 10, 2011
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health

BURLINGTON – Three Vermont state departments are pooling information collected from water samples at designated swimming areas to determine if flood runoff changed the quality of swim water in Lake Champlain.

“At this point, the test results are showing us that if it is a designated swimming area, go ahead, get wet, enjoy the water, be safe, be healthy and have fun,” said Craig Whipple, director of Vermont State Parks. “Basically – all around the State we’re saying ‘The water’s great, come on in’.”

Vermont State Parks tests designated swimming areas weekly throughout the summer, and the Vermont Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation jointly conducted additional testing during the past two weeks – including samples along Lake Champlain. This is due to concerns about contamination in surface waters from flooded treatment plants, failed septic systems and runoff from livestock farms and agricultural fields fertilized with manure.

“Specifically we looked for higher E. coli levels that could indicate a health concern, but those levels – analyzed at the Health and Environmental Conservation Department laboratories – have been acceptable,” said State Toxicologist Bill Bress.

The first water test samples for algae were taken, and cleared, this week by scientists from the University of Vermont at Missisquoi Bay, St. Albans Bay, the Champlain Islands and North Beach and Red Rocks shorelines in Burlington. Testing by the state of additional areas of the lake will continue until it is clear that possible contamination from flooding has passed.

Vermonters are still advised to swim only in designated areas statewide. Flooding may have impacted waterways that have not been tested, including ponds and streams that are routinely used for swimming.

For more information about where to swim in Vermont, visit Vermont State Parks at

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