Bacteria spike prompts no swim warnings at Jackson County lakes

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LONGVIEW LAKE, Mo. -- You may not want to plan on cooling off in Jackson County's lakes during the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

High bacteria levels are being reported at all of them, with the exception of Lake Jacomo. The county health department is warning visitors to stay out of the water at the others.

The director of Jackson County Parks Plus Rec tells FOX4 the surge in bacteria is a result of the heavy rains on Sunday and Monday. Those rains caused runoff of manure, fertilizer and other contaminants into the water.

There's a horse farm near the marina at Longview Lake. Horse manure and other animal feces on the ground carry bacteria that get washed into the lake during heavy downpours.

Even though warnings are posted all around the lakes, not many visitors are aware of the risk.

"It’s kind of a shock," said Shane Spratt, while fishing at Longview Lake. "That should have been a big outpour of: 'Don’t swim in our waters until it gets cleared.' Because nobody wants to come out here and catch bacteria or whatever it is you might do."

Michelle Newman, the Jackson County parks director, reports that testing Thursday has cleared the water at Lake Jacomo. It has been deemed safe for swimmers again.

However, she says Longview, Blue Springs and Prairie Lee lakes still have elevated bacteria counts that are not safe for full body contact.

The county will continue testing the water every day at the lakes in hopes that bacteria levels will drop in time for the Labor Day weekend.

Still, with more rain in the forecast, more runoff may cause bacteria levels to spike again.

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