Public beaches in Eau Claire County closed on Wednesday and will remain shut down through the Memorial Day weekend.
Elevated water and bacteria levels prompted county officials to close beaches on Lake Altoona, Lake Eau Claire, Coon Fork Lake and the wading area at Big Falls, according to a news release from the county Parks and Forest Department.
The health department will retest the water quality next week to see if bacteria levels have fallen to acceptable levels, according to the news release.
Beach closures are more typical during the warmer summer months as algae blooms and animal activity increases around the lakes, leading to higher amounts of bacteria.
”We don’t usually see a lot of elevated counts this early,” said Sue Arndt, a senior microbiologist at the Eau Claire City-County Health Department.
This week's closures are attributed to high water in the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers carrying more bacteria via animal droppings and other sources and depositing them along the shoreline. In addition to the health hazard of bacteria exposure, the high water also brings faster currents that can be dangerous to swimmers.