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Advisories lifted for two Dunes beaches
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Advisories lifted for two Dunes beaches

Portage Lakefront Aerial

The Portage Lakefront is seen from above.

PORTER — Indiana Dunes National Park has lifted two beach advisories that went into effect Thursday after new testing revealed that the presence of E. coli in the water off Portage Lakefront and West Beach retreated to an acceptable level.

Samples taken Wednesday prompted the advisories, which warned visitors that the presence of the “indicator species” E. coli meant swimmers were at greater risk for gastrointestinal illness if they ingested the water.

The National Park designation and then the coronavirus pandemic have driven record tourism this spring to the Indiana Dunes, already Northwest Indiana's top tourism draw and one of the Hoosier State's most visited attractions.

New testing Thursday revealed E. coli levels had dropped precipitously at both locations, with the measurement at the Portage Lakefront at 20.1 colony forming units per 100 milliliters, down from 816.4 CFU/100mL one day earlier. At West Beach, the number was 2.0 CFU/100mL (down from 313). Indiana’s state standard says E. coli counts should not exceed 235 CFU/100mL.

Earlier testing revealed E. coli levels at the park’s six other beach access locations were below the state standard Wednesday. The park conducts weekly surveillance testing at all beaches, following up with additional daily testing if the heightened presence of E. coli is detected.

The National Park Service does not close beaches due to contaminants, merely offering advisories when unsafe conditions are detected. Visitors should “take precautions for their own safety based on water quality, water conditions and other relevant information,” the park said.

To monitor water conditions visit the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s Beach Map at https://portal.idem.in.gov/BeachAlert/.

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Andy is a staff writer with The Times covering public safety and breaking news. Contact him at andy.viano@nwi.com or 219-933-3250.

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