Colorado Parks and Wildlife temporarily closed the Rock Canyon Swim Beach below the dam at Lake Pueblo State Park this week after a routine water quality test revealed higher than allowable E. coli bacteria levels.
The swim beach will remain closed while CPW staff monitors the water quality and follow-up tests show reduced bacteria levels.
Park staff follow a stringent water quality testing protocol established by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to protect public safety. According to CDPHE and CPW rules, the natural swimming area at Rock Canyon, which sits along the Arkansas River, must be closed any time a test sample shows greater than 235 E-coli per 100 ml.
"An increase in bacteria is not uncommon when we get high levels of rain water," said Joe Stadterman, Lake Pueblo State Park Manager. "The health and safety of visitors is our top priority, so it's necessary to temporarily close the swim beach to protect the public."
During prolonged rain events, waste from livestock and wildlife, and runoff from urban areas gets picked up and carried into the watershed, eventually making its way into the swim beach.
Follow-up test results are expected back late next week. At that time, a decision will be made to reopen the swim beach or extend the closure. All other park activities remain unaffected.
Rock Canyon is popular with campers and area residents and boasts a bathhouse with restrooms, changing stations and outdoor showers. There are large covered picnic areas and grills for use.
Typically, the beach is open 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Thursdays through Mondays, until Labor Day. It is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There is no extra fee for the beach, but a $10 daily park pass is required on every vehicle that enters the park.