Lake Calhoun's Thomas Beach E. coli closure could end today

The view of the Minneapolis skyline from Thomas Beach.

The view of the Minneapolis skyline from Thomas Beach.

Lake Calhoun's Thomas Beach has been closed since last Thursday after water samples revealed unsafe E. coli levels in the area.

But that could end today when the results of testing done yesterday are revealed. If E. coli levels have fallen back below an acceptable level, Thomas Beach could reopen within hours, Robin Smothers, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board spokesperson, tells us.

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All Hennepin County beaches except Thomas Beach are currently open, including the other two on Lake Calhoun.

So what explains the relatively gross conditions at Thomas Beach? Smothers says it has more to do with flooding and animals than it does humans.

"This closure is likely due to unusual conditions at the beach due to high water levels," she tells us. "Flooding and waterfowl are most often the culprits, and there's also turtles and fish."

Smothers says she can't recall another occasion when Thomas Beach had to close, though last year the 32nd Street Beach on Lake Calhoun was shut down for a while. Other Hennepin County beaches -- like Lake Hiawatha beach, where runoff from Minnehaha Creek regularly pollutes the waters -- typically have more of an issue with E. coli.

But Smothers says the Thomas Beach closure is connected with unprecedented flooding around the Chain of Lakes.

"I can't speak officially, but when we've looked at lake levels, people at the Park Board can't recall flooding as bad and lasting as long," she says.

Until it's reopened, signs in English and Spanish spaced every 10 feet along the beach will continue to advise folks against using the beach.

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.