Minneapolis Swimming Beaches
Each summer, thousands of visitors to our City lakes enjoy a refreshing swim at our many swimming beaches. To ensure a healthy and enjoyable experience for these swimmers, the water at the public beaches is monitored by the Park Board for bacteria that can be an indication of health risks for swimmers.
All authorized beaches are sampled and analyzed for nonpathogenic indicator bacteria to determine if a health risk is present for swimmers. The indicator bacteria we test for is Escherichia coli. E. coli may be a sign of fecal contamination and is the indicator recommended by the State of Minnesota. High amounts of E. coli indicate an increased risk of contracting a gastrointestinal illness. For more detailed information on public beach monitoring, see the MPRB Water Resources Report.
Bacteria Levels Rise With Rainfall
Bacteria (including E. coli) levels can be an indication of health risks for swimmers. High bacteria levels generally occur immediately after rain events in Minneapolis. Here's what you should be aware of regarding bacteria levels:
- Increased bacteria levels predominantly come from waterfowl and pet wastes in yards, streets and parks that wash into lakes either directly or through the storm sewers as the result of a heavy rain. Picking up after your dog or cat is one way to reduce the amount of bacteria in storm water runoff.
- Elevated bacterial levels in lakes generally return to normal levels within 48 hours of a rainfall. To lower your risk of exposure to high bacteria levels in lake water, avoid swimming after a rainfall.
- Do not go swimming if you or your child have diarrhea, to prevent the transmission of the disease.
- Be careful to not get lake water in your mouth. Wash your hands before eating and after changing a diaper. And shower afterwards if possible.
MPRB beaches will be closed if a water sample is over the State of Minnesota’s guideline. A beach will reopen when testing reveals that levels have dropped below the guideline. Unfortunately, the test for E. coli takes 24 hours. Therefore, we do not receive results until early afternoon the day after we sample a beach.
Summer Heat Attracts Swimmer's Itch
Swimmer's itch occasionally affects our City lakes and beaches. Here's what you should know about this annoying but harmless irritation:
- Characterized by small, irritating red welts that appear after swimming. Sensitive individuals may itch for several weeks.
- Occurs most often after swimming on hot, still summer days.
- Caused by a parasite that infects birds and snails during different stages of its life. The parasite is unable to live in humans.
- To avoid becoming infected, towel dry immediately after exiting the water and shower afterwards, when possible.
View current beach status or call the MPRB Beach Hotline at 612-313-7713.