E. coli test shows Tempe Town Lake is safe for triathletes

Posted: Updated:
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

TEMPE, Ariz. -- After receiving the latest E. coli test results, the City of Tempe says triathletes will be able to swim in Tempe Town Lake Sunday.

According to a statement from spokeswoman Melissa Quillard, the level of E. coli in the lake is well within the permitted standards for full-body contact.

Trash and other debris had washed into the lake during recent monsoon storms, resulting in high levels of the bacteria. Samples taken Thursday showed the water was not safe for swimming.

Life Time Tri organizer John Sellinger said if the water was still not safe for swimming on Sunday, the event would likely be a duathlon instead of a triathlon. In a duathlon, competitors run, bike then run again instead of starting the race with a swim.

The triathlon will serve as a national championship for parariathletes with various disabilities.

Quillard said the lake is tested any time the city receives more than 0.2 inch of rain.

"It is not uncommon for levels of bacteria to be higher immediately following a rainstorm," Quillard said in a statement. "Generally, the lake corrects itself with time and sunlight."

She said three 100-milliliter samples are drawn from the lake each time it is tested -- one from the west end, one from the east end and one from the center.

Friday's water samples showed E. coli levels at 22 upstream, 5 in the middle of the lake and 13 downstream. The standard for full-body contact is 235.

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