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Water samples should be taken this week

Monroe still not convinced there's an E.coli problem in Pell Lake

POWERS LAKE WATER SAMPLER'S TAKE ON PELL LAKE TESTING SITUATION - Powers Lake — Nancy Michael said it's easy to take a water sample. Just go knee-deep into the body of water and dip a bottle down about 6 to 12 inches below the surface. "That's all it takes," Michael said. Last week, she said she was "astounded" by some of the statements made by Bloomfield Town Chairman Ken Monroe, who on Monday announced there will be more water samples collected from Pell Lake. Michael said she has worked for the District of Powers Lake now for about two years. She collects the water samples every week in the summer in four random spots near Knolls Beach. Michael said those samples are tested for E.coli by the Burlington Public Works Department. She said she agreed with Monroe's decision to post the warning at the north beach. However, Michael said she was "astounded" to read Monroe's statements about the tests. "It's so easy," Michael said. "The sampling is extremely simple." Simple but necessary. She said Knolls Beach was closed twice last year because of the test results. According to state guidelines, any sample in which the coliform units, or cfu, exceed 1,000 means public access to that water must be restricted. According to Michael, there were times when the Powers Lake samples came back in the 1,300s. Why? She said she believes it's a combination similar to what local officials are predicting is causing the Pell Lake situation — heat, heavy rainfalls and geese. "You put those three together and you've got the perfect storm," Michael said. Recently, there was an E.coli advisory at Pewaukee Lake. Michael said so far, this year has been good to Powers Lake. "We've been fortunate, but I know it's happening at other lakes," she said. She said during the two times Knolls Beach was closed last year, the district and the Randall Town Board sustained an "excellent" working relationship in handling the dilemmas by posting notices and advisories and obtaining information. "The signage doesn't cost much," Michael said. "You can print (a sign) off from a computer and post it on a tree." However, Michaels said the test results can change substantially. "(E.coli contamination) can clear up real quick," she said. "Sometimes, the wind has something to do with it. (But) it could be clear the next day. ... Even if we get a positive test result, we're back the next day." She also said it costs $20 a sample to have the E.coli test conducted. That's the cost Olenoski said he paid per sample at Genoa City. The District of Powers Lake was established in 1985 "to protect and preserve the beautiful natural resources of Powers Lake," according to the district's website, districtofpowerslake.org. "We learned long ago that it was up to us to take care of this lake," Michael said.
August 25, 2010 | 09:05 AM
Bloomfield — For a couple weeks, town Chairman Ken Monroe has been conducting research.

He has contacted local lake experts.

He's talked to the state and the Pell Lake Sanitary District.

Finally, on Monday, Monroe announced the Pell Lake Sanitary District will collect water samples in Pell Lake this week — almost a month after the test of a sample collected by a local man indicated possibly high levels of E.coli near the north beach.

"The only thing I was doing research on was to get the right stuff for this test and how to do it properly," Monroe said Monday.

Recently, Genoa City's Public Works Department conducted tests on water samples collected by Rich Olenoski.

The results indicated possibly high levels of E.coli at Pell Lake's north beach.

Two weeks ago, Monroe authorized the posting of a warning sign at the beach.

He said he's still not convinced there is an E.coli problem in Pell Lake — yet.

"It's a big deal if there is E.coli in the lake, but until we've got some results back, I don't think there's a big problem," Monroe said Monday. "At this time, until we get more official tests back, we can't make any official decisions."

Taking water samples is something Monroe has experienced when he owned Monroe's Mobil gas station.

According to Monroe, he had to collect samples years ago when the gas tanks were replaced on the property.

He said he was waiting on materials from the state concerning guidelines for collecting samples.

It's not that taking samples is difficult, but it can affect the accuracy of the test.

"I realize it's not rocket science, but we could do it and people would question it," Monroe said. "I just want to make sure it's done right."

This week, Pell Lake Sanitary District employees are expected to take lake water samples and send them to the Genoa City department for testing.

That's where Olenoski sent his samples from the north and south beaches.

The July 21 samples submitted by Olenoski indicated 2,419 cfu at the north beach.

The state's advisory range of 236 and 1,000 coliform units, or cfu.

At the south beach, it was 218.7 cfu.

On Aug. 3, Olenoski collected another sample at the north beach.

That time, the cfu was 2,419.6.

The Pell Lake Sanitary District collects samples on the lake and tests for fecal content, which different from testing for E.coli.

Last week, District President Bill Markut said the local lab is not certified or equipped to test for the potentially life-threatening bacteria.

Apparently, the closest labs are in Genoa City and Burlington.

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