Beach at Greers Ferry Lake reopens after concerns about E. coli

CLEBURNE COUNTY (KATV) - A beach at Greers Ferry Lake has re-opened after health officials closed it because of high levels of E. coli.

The bacteria was in the water off Sandy Beach in Heber Springs last week but officials say its now safe to go in.

"I just wanted to see for myself and sure enough it's closed," said beach goer, Kirk McCollough.

It was something many people who frequent Sandy Beach had to see for themselves.

"It's unusual for nobody to be here," said McCollough. "Usually, this time on Friday there's a lot of people, a lot of kids here."

But the beach was closed Friday and had been for several days because of high E. coli levels in the water and geese are partially to blame.

"We've been doing things to try to correct the problem, which is try to eliminate the geese from the beach area," said Jackie McPherson, mayor of Heber Springs. "Trying to scare them off."

"I've been in city government for about 20 years now and I've never known this to happen at Sandy Beach," he said.

All of the public and some private beaches are tested monthly by the Arkansas Department of Health. Recent samples revealed high levels of E. coli in the lake at Sandy Beach caused by the rapidly growing geese population's waste.

"A lot of these bacteria are potentially pathogenic and can cause human disease and they typically cause diarrhea, fever-like syndromes," said Dr. Gary Wheeler, Chief of the Infectious Diseases branch at Arkansas Department of Health.

Dr. Wheeler says all beaches have some bacteria. He recommends these simple tips next time you go for a swim.

"Shower when they come out and they really try not to swallow any water while their in the streams or lakes," he said.

As for Sandy Beach, samples Friday showed levels are fine. The beach will reopen Saturday morning.

"We're just so proud to get the beach back open and we just want everyone to come back out and enjoy the summer," said Mayor McPherson.

The mayor says a lot of rain contributed to the problem. They will be putting out more geese repellants in the next few days which should help.

Here are the other nine beaches that are closed as of June 14th:

Crowley's Ridge, Greene Co.

Camp Joshua, Benton Co.

Gunner Pool at Blanchard Springs

Barkshed at Blanchard Springs

Lower Pool at Blanchard Springs

Spring Lake in Yell Co.

Ozark Acres, Sharp Co.

Jackson Port, Jackson Co.

Arrowhead, Pike Co.

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