YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Mill Creek MetroParks officials closed the park’s three lakes July 10 after finding high levels of the bacteria E. Coli in the water.
The decision came in the same week that our station noticed a slew of dead fish in Lake Newport and started pushing for answers. On Wednesday, our news crew was there as they started testing the water for E. Coli.
“Currently, we are only starting with Lake Newport because that is where the fish kill was,” Ryan Tekac of the Mahoning County District Board of Health said.
Mill Creek MetroParks is paying the Mahoning County Board of Health up to $3,000 to test three different locations on Lake Newport. An environmental health technician took three samples at each site: the boat house, boat launch and the walking bridge near Sheban Drive.
“We are trying to find out what the e. coli levels are in the certain areas, how the lake is performing at the north end, south end and in the middle,” Tekac said.
The tests will take place over the next 12 weeks and within 48 hours after a rain event. Results will take 24 hours.
“We want to see, first of all, get a baseline of what it looks like over there. We also want to check to see what it’s like maybe with variations of temperature, variations of rainfall, water depth,” Mahoning County District Board of Health laboratory director Scott Bolam said.
The samples were taken to the Board of Health’s Laboratory Services in Austintown. The entire 12 weeks of testing will serve as the park’s baseline for pollution in Lake Newport.
“We currently do not have a baseline. This is a reason why we are testing. And this is hopefully going to tell us a trend that is going on in the waters,” Tekac said.
He said park officials could consider testing other lakes next season.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story said that Wednesday’s tests would be used as a baseline for the lake’s pollution. The entire 12 weeks-worth of testing will be used as a baseline.