Olympia lake shut down due to fecal coliform bacteria contamination

Updated:

OLYMPIA, Washington - Ward Lake has been shut down to swimmers due to high levels of fecal coliform bacteria detected in the water, Thurston County officials said Friday.

“These results are unprecedented and unexpected,” a news release from the county read. “Lakes in Thurston County typically have less than 50 fecal coliform/100 ml. More than 500 fecal coliform/100 ml were in samples collected August 29th from Ward Lake. The water quality standard for primary water contact (swimming) is less than 50 fecal coliform/100 ml of sample.”

Signs have been posted at the lake warning swimmers, waders and anyone else who might go into the water of the risk. Officials have also warned people to keep their pets out of the lake.

“We’re very concerned about the water quality results,” Olympia Public Works Director Rich Hoey said. “City staff and crews are actively investigating possible causes, including testing and televising stormwater and sewer pipes throughout the area. We ask that residents also check their septic systems, STEP systems and/or grinder pumps to look for leaks or any malfunctions.”

Most of the homes around the lake are connected to the city’s sewer system, but some are on septic systems, the county said.

Officials said they plan to sample multiple locations around the lake Friday and then have them analyzed.

The lake will remain closed until water quality returns to safe levels.