Lake Columbia

High readings of E. coli have closed the swimming area at Lake Columbia's Southside Park.

The swimming area at Lake Columbia is closed temporarily due to tests finding a slightly high level of bacteria in the water in that area, the Columbia County Rural Development Authority said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

“The (Arkansas Department of Health) regularly conducts tests of the water in the swimming area; the latest test followed rain runoff which carries goose and other wildlife droppings into the water along the bank. No one is forcing swimmers to stay out of the swimming area, but a sign is in place, as required, to alert the public. The bacteria level is expected to be lower on the health department’s next test,” said RDA Chairman Dan Gregory.

“Unfortunately, social media has made this appear a much worse situation than it is. Please don’t believe everything you read on social media. The lake is not closed; nor is it in danger of closing. And there are no restrictions on eating fish from

Lake Columbia. The only area of the lake that was even tested is the swimming area,” the statement said.

Danyelle McNeill, public information office for the Arkansas Department of Health, said the lake’s swim area is closed due to high levels of E. coli.

“We are doing further testing in this site and will reopen the swim beach once two consecutive safe samples are taken. This should not affect any fish caught and eaten as long as the fish are properly prepared and cooked,” she said.

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