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E. coli levels in Lake Anna returned to normal in May

Posted on Sunday, May 27, 2018 at 5:00 am

Lake Anna. File photo

E-coli levels in Lake Anna returned to normal in May following unusually high readings one month earlier. However, the Lake Anna Civic Association cautioned that the group’s May 15 water quality test used a method that is not as reliable as their regular procedure.

“The results indicate that the lake has recovered well except in the extreme upper reaches,” Doug Smith, civic association president, wrote on Facebook. He said even the latter readings were much lower than they were in April.

The April tests, like others LACA volunteers normally complete quarterly, used a specific method approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The tests are sent to a laboratory, which processes them and sends results to the association.

Smith described May’s test as a “quick” test that is “not as accurate,” but can be indicative of better conditions. He said his group will conduct another lab test in June.

Readings in May were generally below 125 colony-forming units per 100 milliliters. The rule of thumb for E. coli tests is that the cfu level should not exceed 235. The April tests found cfu levels in various locations of 345 to nearly 13,000. Smith described those numbers as the highest LACA has ever recorded.

James Beckley, a Virginia Department of Environmental Quality spokesman, said last month that high E. coli numbers are not unusual after a major rain storm, which occurred a few days before the April tests. E. coli levels are often elevated in the spring as agricultural runoff from nearby farms spills into the lake. Beckley said levels typically return to normal within a few days after a heavy rain.

Another heavy rain occurred the week of May 15, but mostly after the test was completed.

Lake Anna Civic Association said on its Facebook page that it is seeking donations to help cover the cost of future water quality testing. The Louisa County Board of Supervisors declined to give LACA $7,000 this spring to cover its share of the cost.