Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

June 14, 2013

Lake Red Rock is ready for the season

By Steve Woodhouse Editor
The Journal Express

---- — Swimming may not be advised at the North Overlook, but that did not deter several beach combers Tuesday afternoon.

The Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Red Rock tests the quality of the water near the beach on a weekly basis. If bacteria levels are too high, signs are posted that indicate that the quality is not optimal.

Perry Thostenson, Assistant Operations Manager at Red Rock, said there is no “smoking gun” or single cause for the bacteria levels. Gulls remain a problem, as does runoff from other areas within the watershed. The Corps has been trying to address these issues.

Though the bacteria level may test high, Thostenson said similar tests on the water, in deeper areas of the lake, show that the quality of the water overall in the lake is outstanding.

“It’s the same lake,” Thostenson said.

Even when water quality is good, there is still a risk of ingesting pathogens. Thostenson did not want to discourage anyone from enjoying the lake, but they need to be aware of this.

One couple enjoying the lake on Tuesday said they were not concerned about bacteria. People did not worry about such things for years and they were fine. Around 40-50 people were on the beach at the time of the interview, with several of them enjoying the cool water.

The water level at the lake topped out at 765 feet during this Spring’s heavy rainfall. This caused some minor recreational disruptions, according to Thostenson. The “normal” pool for the lake is 742 feet. As of Tuesday afternoon, the level was at 764.47 feet.

Memorial Day did not go well for the Corps, due to cold temperatures. Campsites around the lake have been consistently full since then.

Projects for this summer include finishing the Corps’ maintenance building and more work on the dam mechanical project. Dam work is expected to resume in July and may lead to partial closures of T-15.