Klineline closed indefinitely after tests show elevated E. coli levels

Closure comes a day after return of lifeguards to swimming area




Klineline Pond was closed indefinitely Thursday after routine testing showed elevated levels of E. coli bacteria, said Clark County Health Officer Alan Melnick.

The spray park and restrooms at Salmon Creek Regional Park will remain open, as they have a separate source of water.

Melnick said anyone in contact with water in Klineline pond should wash their hands with soap and warm water.

E. coli bacteria spreads when swimmers accidentally swallow water contaminated with human and animal feces.

“One of the best ways to reduce the spread of E. coli in swimming areas is to ensure that children who are not potty-trained stay out of the water,” Melnick said. “Swim diapers are not reliable, and we discourage their use.”

The health warning will remain in effect until testing shows E. coli levels do not exceed state and federal guidelines, he said.

The bacteria can cause serious gastrointestinal illness, including fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, Melnick said.

Symptoms can develop several hours or several days after exposure. Antibiotics or over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medicines can make some infections worse, so people who experience bloody diarrhea or other persistent symptoms should see a health care provider, Melnick said.

Park visitors will still be able to fish in the pond, but should thoroughly clean all fish and equipment. Fish should be cooked before it’s eaten, Melnick added.

The county health department will test the pond daily.

The health department also does water quality testing at Lacamas Lake, Vancouver Lake and Battle Ground Lake.

On Wednesday, lifeguards returned to Klineline for the first time since 2010. Eighteen lifeguards and two beach managers were hired for Klineline, the only county swimming area with lifeguards.

Bill Bjerke, operations superintendent of Clark County Public Works, said the two beach managers are doing administrative work away from the water. The lifeguards, however, will not be reassigned and will not be called back to work until testing shows the pond to be safe.

Last summer, Klineline was closed after several swimmers became ill from shigella sonnei, another bacteria spread through fecal-oral transmission. The pond was closed for a little more than one week.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com