Possible E. coli contamination closes Gervais Lake Beach

Gervais Lake Beach in Little Canada is closed until further notice due to possible E. coli contamination in the lake, a result of the recent record-breaking rains and stress on the Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES) sewer system.

A Ramsey County Parks and Recreation notice said sewage spilling in North St. Paul near Kohlman Creek, which feeds into Gervais Lake, is the reason for the closure. The county stated it would test water near the unguarded beach Friday, June 20, though conclusive testing of the water for E. coli bacteria will take a few days; the beach is being closed as a precautionary action.

The spill of approximately 450,000 gallons of sewage, according to a North St. Paul city official, took place the night of June 19 following a deluge of heavy rains.

Little Canada City Administrator Joel Hanson explained that “Met Council lines are overtaxed,” due to inflow and infiltration of rainwater into waste water lines, resulting in the sewage spill.

Hanson said Little Canada’s sewer system was functioning normally.

“We’re not discharging anywhere, we’re not dumping into any bodies of water,” he said.

Jennifer Fink, a recreation services supervisor at Ramsey County, said prominent signage will be posted at the beach to indicate that it is closed and that the county’s weekly water-testing regimen will determine when the beach will open again.

While intense rains doused the metro and prompted warnings of flash floods in certain areas June 19, MCES announced similar spills into Lake Minnetonka and Medicine Lake in the western suburbs, as well as the Mississippi River at a spot in St. Paul. It also stated that its sewer system was stressed in a number of cities throughout the metro, including in North St. Paul.

According to the MCES release, while the inflow and infiltration of rainwater into the sewer system can result in spills, it can also result in sewer backups into homes and businesses. MCES advises people to move valuables out of basements, and to monitor lower levels for up to 24 hours after particularly strong rainstorms.

–Mike Munzenrider


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