Monitoring Water Quality at Easter Lake

Published 6/20/2024 11:49:47 AM

Easter Lake is tested for the prevalence of E.coli each week Memorial Day - Labor Day.


During the summer recreation season, Polk County Conservation staff are regularly monitoring the water in Easter Lake where swimming, boating and fishing recreation are active. Staff are taking samples weekly to test for the presence of E. coli bacteria. Though E. coli by itself is not necessarily harmful, it is often found with other contaminants that can cause illness if the water is ingested.

Every week on Thursday or Friday, weekly results will be posted here. Additionally, when E.coli levels exceed the recommended range, signs indicating that swimming is not recommended will be posted at the Athene North Shore Recreation Area beach.

As of July 10, 2024 test results indicate:

  • Currently the levels of E. coli in the water are above the recommended range.
  • Swimming is not recommended in the lake. However, Boating and fishing are great, safe ways to enjoy the water.  
Chart showing the weekly geometric mean for E. coli levels at Easter Lake.


Here are a few additional items to know about the presence of E. coli in bodies of water:

  • All E. coli does not cause human illness. E. coli is however used as an indicator that there may be potential pathogens in the water that could cause human illness.
  • High levels of E. coli may indicate an elevated risk for sickness to occur from contact with the water. E. coli exposure does not guarantee that illness will occur.
  • E. coli can be found naturally in the environment as well as in animal and human waste.
  • There are many factors that can lead to high E. coli levels. Heat and lack of rain is one. Also, we know that the large goose population is a contributing factor.


Choosing whether and how to recreate near water when E.coli levels exceed the recommended threshold is a matter of personal risk tolerance. When swimming is not recommended, you can still safely fish or boat with very low chance of illness. The key is to thoroughly wash your hands when done and before eating. 


To learn more about water quality monitoring and guidelines, here are resources to review: