by: Gary Horcher Updated:BELLEVUE, Wash. —
During the hottest stretch of weather this year, swimmers are now being turned away at Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Beach.
The City of Bellevue has closed the designated swimming area until further notice, due to high levels of fecal coliform bacteria in that immediate area of Lake Washington.
Investigators don’t know the source of the bacteria, but in previous years, coliform bacteria have been linked to broken sewer lines and even discharge from a nearby marina. Exposure could cause skin rashes and even gastro-intestinal illness if the water is swallowed.
“We were about to dive in before the lifeguard stopped us,” said Julie Rouse, a tourist from Australia. “It’s surprising to see the warning signs; Seattle has such a clean image.” One lifeguard told KIRO 7 she suffered an eye infection after spending time in the water.
Christian Vargas jumped into the lake, after lifeguards left the beach at 7p.m. Tuesday. A KIRO-7 crew warned him about the danger. “Human feces? That’s gross,” he said, after learning about the bacteria levels. “I’m glad I know now, eeeew,” Vargas said.
Water in the swimming areas at the other beaches in Bellevue, however, have tested within normal levels.
King County Water and Land Resources, which regularly tests water quality at beaches surrounding Lake Washington, will reopen the lake to swimmers once the bacteria levels have fallen to a safe range.
Though the lake is closed, the park will remain open.
More information on the potential health risks of swimming in areas with high bacteria is available here.