UPDATE (9/1/2023): The beach has reopened after three tests returned as satisfactory, officials said.
FISHERS, Ind. — The Beach at Geist Waterfront Park is closed after high levels of E. coli were found in the water, according to the Fishers Health Department.
While the surrounding park remains open, visiting the beach and swimming in the water are not currently permitted.
The water tests carried out by the Fishers Health Department evaluated the beach water’s temperature, its dissolved oxygen levels and monitored for the presence of bacteria like E. coli.
This was part of the health department’s routine water testing, which regularly tests water in the beach area.
“For Geist Waterfront Park, Fishers Parks conducts regular testing specific to the beach area,” read a statement on Fishers Parks website. “A recent test conducted for the cove at Geist Waterfront Park resulted in unsatisfactory results for E. coli levels.”
Bacteria like E. coli tend to grow faster at higher temperatures, according to the Fishers Health Department. The increased presence of E. coli was also attributed to environmental factors such as recent rainfall activity.
“Higher temperatures combined with rain events and environmental factors can increase the pathogenic bacteria levels such as E. coli. Fishers has both urban and agricultural runoff inputs into the watershed which affects our water quality,” the statement concluded.
The health department said E. coli can cause stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhea.
“If you’re a person that recently swam in the area, you might be under the weather, whether that’s digestive issues or just your plain old cold and cough,” said city spokesperson Ashley Elrod. “We always recommend that you reach out to your primary care physician.”
Park visitors said they are not surprised that there is E. coli in the water.
“It’s Indiana and if you grew up in a rural area, you’ve been swimming in lakes and they just always kind of look like that,” said park visitor Rita Adams. “Dirty water isn’t a huge concern for me.”
Adams said she still thinks it is good the city tests the water regularly.
“Especially when you have kids and they’re drinking the water and playing in it and stuff,” she described. “So if there’s high levels of E. coli and bacteria, well I don’t want that in them or me.”
In the meantime, the city is waiting on updated results before reopening the swimming area.
“For a natural body of water, we don’t apply any treatments for things like E. coli,” Elrod said. “Unfortunately, we just kind of have to wait and see. Usually, this cooler weather that we’re experiencing right now does help a lot. And the lack of rain is helping.”
The city has a third party analyzing the most recent test results. Right now, the health department is hoping to have the results by Thursday.