Quality monitoring for quality fun

Hennepin County helps keep our beaches safe

Hennepin County helps keep our beaches safe

Going to the beach is supposed to be fun and relaxing; and it usually is. But waterborne illnesses can quickly turn fun to disaster.

To ensure the water is safe, Hennepin County’s Public Health Department samples and analyzes water at 31 public swimming beaches weekly from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The county has the authority to close contaminated beaches. If a beach is listed as closed, you can contact the city the beach is in for more information.

Preventing illnesses

Nearly all water-borne illnesses are caused by organisms in untreated waste, from humans and other animals, introduced to the water directly or via rainstorm runoff.

The county analyzes water samples for traces of E. coli, a bacteria that cause stomachaches, diarrhea, some ear and eye infections, and flu-like symptoms.

When E. coli bacteria levels exceed guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the county recommends closing beaches until follow-up samples are at a level within the acceptable range.

Prepare for a safe swimming experience

You can also help protect public health at beaches. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends beach visitors follow these guidelines:

  • Wait 24 hours to swim after a heavy rainfall.
  • Shower after being at the beach.
  • Don't swallow water or swish it in your mouth.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before eating and after using the bathroom.
  • Don't swim if you're sick or have a weakened immune system.
  • Put tight-fitting rubber or plastic pants on children who are wearing diapers and those who are not toilet-trained.
  • Take your children for frequent bathroom breaks.
  • Don't feed ducks, geese, gulls, etc.
  • Pick up your trash.
  • If you boat, properly dispose of waste back on land.