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High Levels of E. Coli Found in Whiskeytown Lake

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area has released a precautionary public advisory after high levels of E. Coli were found during testing at the lake's popular beach Brandy Creek

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area has released a precautionary public advisory after high levels of E. Coli were found during testing at the lake’s popular beach Brandy Creek. Park officials are advising beach goers to stay out of the water at Brandy Creek.

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 Brandy Creek area of the lake. Although swimming is discouraged, the beach will remain open.

Here is the full statement from Whiskeytown National Recreation Area:

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area Issues a Precautionary Public Advisory For Brandy Creek Beach

In an effort to protect public health, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area monitors water quality regularly and collaborates with the Central Valley Water Quality Control Board. This monitoring occurs each year to examine overall swim beach water quality health during the summer months. Recent water quality monitoring shows that Brandy Creek Beach has had elevated levels of E. coli at some sites, posing an increased risk to recreational users of this specific beach. There have been no reports of illnesses.

At present, the park is collecting additional information to help county health officials and park managers better determine the level of risk to people who are swimming at this location.
Elevated levels could lead to public warnings or restricted access to the beach. Because of the increased risk of contracting an illness, the National Park Service advises against swimming within the Brandy Creek Swim Beach area as we continue to monitor the swim beach water. This does not mean that the beaches are closed, but the National Park Service is recommending against swimming in the water at Brandy Creek Beach until further notice.



E. coli is an indicator bacteria used to identify fecal pollution from human, pet, or wildlife waste. Most strains of E. coli are harmless, but elevated levels indicate that pathogens could be present and sicken swimmers and other users of this area. You can help us keep our beaches clean and safe by the following:

1. Don’t feed wildlife! The Canada geese population that you see here at Whiskeytown is an unnatural population that have been living off of lawns and the food that visitors have left behind. Since a single goose can defecate every 20 minutes and approximately 1 – 3 lbs. a day, they are the most likely culprit of the park’s water quality issues at the swim beaches. Feeding the wildlife at Whiskeytown isn’t just a risk to human and wildlife safety, it’s also not healthy for the geese. And, it’s also punishable by a $250 fine.

2. Visitors can also help keep the waters of Whiskeytown clean by practicing healthy hygiene. A shower before swimming can help keep the waters clean, and a shower after swimming can greatly reduce the risk of swimmer’s itch, a condition caused by a parasite that uses waterfowl as a host.

Please remember!
• Don’t feed wildlife!
• Don’t leave food unattended.
• Pick up any food scraps after picnicking.
• Use restrooms provided.
• Shower before and after swimming.
• Access the lake from areas other than the most popular beaches.

Help keep Whiskeytown’s beaches safe, clean, and open!

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