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Dangerous Levels Of Bacteria Shut Down Boulder Reservoir

By Karen Morfitt

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) - High levels of bacteria forced parks and recreation officials to close the swim beach at the Boulder Reservoir.

Boulder Reservoir
(credit: CBS)

For young camp goers like Karina Laforte and Mackenzie Cole that means having to skip the swim portion of their day.

"We just stay in our tents and play card games and make little things," Laforte said.

The swim area was shut down Tuesday at approximately 10:30 a.m. immediately after high levels of bacteria were found in the water.

Rachael Laforte was picking up her daughter when she learned of the closure.

"It's pretty disappointing and kind of worrisome as a parent to hear bacteria is in the reservoir when we know our kids have their whole week planned around water sports and swimming in the reservoir," she said.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment requires natural swim areas like the one at Boulder Reservoir be tested for a certain strain of E.coli every week. The results from Monday showed levels more than 10 times what is allowed.

Boulder Reservoir Swim Beach
(credit: CBS)

Beach manager Stacy Cole said approximately 100 kids visiting from camp had to be sent home.

"Some people get a little concerned, most definitely, so we try and explain to them what's going on," Cole said.

Exactly what caused the increase isn't clear. Cole says runoff coming into the reservoir and an increase in geese in the area paired with a long stretch of hot days likely played a factor.

"The heat definitely precipitates the growth of the bacteria, so a lot of times when it is warmer out we will see samples results coming back positive," she said.

Stand Up Paddleboarding
(credit: CBS)

Testing on the other side of the lake came back normal and for now boating, waterskiing and fishing can continue.

As for the beach reopening, Cole says it all depends on when those levels drop.

For moms like Laforte, it's an uneasy feeling.

"I guess I have to put my trust in the people that are testing. I don't really want them swimming if there's a chance of bacteria at that level," she said.

Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.

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