By AP/St. Louis Public Radio
Jefferson City, Mo – Newly released Missouri water records show a spike this year in high bacteria levels at the Lake of the Ozarks.
There are two public beaches at the popular lake. Water quality tests showed E. coli levels high enough to close at least one of the beaches 11 times in 2009. That's more than double the number of times beaches were to be closed between 2003 and 2008.
Water quality at the Lake of the Ozarks has become a political firestorm for Gov. Jay Nixon. The administration has admitted to withholding water quality results in May over concerns about the impact on tourism over the Memorial Day weekend. And last week, it was revealed the state Department of Natural Resources failed to close one of the lake's beaches despite test results showing high E. coli levels. Nixon suspended the department's director, Mark Templeton, following the revelation.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources recorded water test results from 15 parks this year. Beaches are supposed to be closed when single samples or the average of recent tests hit a certain threshold.