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Coulon beach still closed, city hopes to reopen Tuesday

Only the ducks were able to swim Monday at Coulon park due to high levels of bacteria in the water. - Brian Beckley, Renton Reporter
Only the ducks were able to swim Monday at Coulon park due to high levels of bacteria in the water.
— image credit: Brian Beckley, Renton Reporter

With sunny skies and highs in the low- to mid-70s predicted for this week, The City of Renton is hoping to get the swimming beach at Gene Coulon Memorial Park back open as soon as possible.

The beach was closed Friday after tests from King County indicated last week that counts for fecal coliform bacteria were unusually high. As of Monday, the beach remained closed, though tests were conducted Monday with results expected tomorrow.

"We hope to re-open Tuesday afternoon," said Renton Recreation Director Kris Stimpson on Monday.

According to King County Public Health spokesperson Hilary Karasz, fecal coliform bacteria is a family of bacteria found in the digestive tracts of animals, including geese, dogs and humans.

The bacteria is always present in the water, but when the numbers reach above a certain level, the county recommends the beach be shut down. It is unknown what caused the increased level at Coulon.

Stimpson said the county monitors the water quality at Kennydale Beach Park and Gene Coulon Memorial Park each week during swim season. On Aug. 11, increased numbers of bacteria were found. On Wednesday, King County officials returned to retest and found numbers slightly elevated again.

According to Stimpson, the beach was "right on the bubble" so King County officials retuned a third time to test. With bacteria numbers still high, they made the recommendation to close.

The bacteria is only dangerous when ingested. It can cause gastrointestinal illness in those who do.

"So don't drink the lake water," said Karasz, adding that the warnings and closure were mostly precautionary.

"We don't want people to think that if they get splashed they will get sick," Karasz said.

Stimpson said tests at the park were conducted again Monday and if the results are good, the beach will be open Tuesday. If not, the testing process will repeat until it is considered safe for swimming.

In the meantime, Kennydale Beach Park remains open.

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