Iowa posts record number of beach advisories

DNR monitoring ends after Labor Day

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Gazette Des Moines Bureau

DES MOINES — The Iowa Environmental Council reports Iowa has posted a record-breaking number of beach advisories at Iowa state park beaches for a second straight year.

The increase is due to high levels of microcystin — a toxin produced by some forms of blue-green algae blooms that make the water unsafe for swimming.

The six beach advisories issued by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources this week brought to 37 the total number of microcystin warnings posted this year.

That surpasses last year’s record of 34 warnings, according to council officials.

Ann Robinson, agricultural policy specialist at the Iowa Environmental Council, said the DNR has issued 185 beach warnings for high levels of microcystin since 2006 — with nearly two-thirds posted in the past four years.

Blue-green algae is fed by an abundance of nutrients, including phosphorus and nitrogen, and is exacerbated by hot temperatures, Robinson noted.

The latest advisories from the DNR (iowadnr.gov) advises against swimming at three beaches in Eastern Iowa:

• Delaware County — Backbone Beach

• Tama County — Union Grove Beach

• Washington County — Lake Darling

Elevated bacterial levels also have been reported this summer at F.W. Kent Park in Johnson County and at Lake Iowa Park Beach in Iowa County.

The state park beach monitoring season ends after Labor Day.

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