The swimming/beach area at Beaverfork Lake Park in Conway remains closed after the state health department found high levels of E.Coli present in the water during a routine test.

E.coli is a bacteria found in the environment, foods and intestines of people and animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

It states that while most strains are harmless, others can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia among other illnesses.

Beaverfork Lake Manager Thomas Meares spoke with the Log Cabin Democrat on Friday and said the Arkansas Department of Health comes out every four to six weeks in the summer to take routine samples.

He said samples taken after Memorial Day came back a few points over what is recommended levels for that area.

While samples after have come up clear, there have been some that have been noted as above level again, Meares said.

He said officials took another sample to Little Rock on Friday and would find out the results in three to four days.

If it comes back clean, the area will be opened again.

Currently, the park staff has put signs up around the area warning park goers that the swimming beach is closed.

Despite the signage, the Log Cabin Democrat witnessed one family out at the picnic area near the water Friday and two children swimming.

Meares said park officials don’t want anyone swimming in the water. He said if staff members see people in the water, they will be asked to get out.

In addition, he said, park visitors are encouraged to dial the park phone and alert staff if they see anyone in the water.

This is not the first time the local spot has been shut down due to the E.coli issue.

Meares said they’ve been told by the health department that the major contributing factor is the wildlife in the area and the high periods of rainfall that wash fecal matter into the water.

While they love having the animals around, he said, it does increase the bacteria in the water.

Meares said while it’s difficult to control that, there are steps that the public can take to help, including abstaining from feeding the wildlife.

He said the animals commonly hang out by the park because they are getting food and will come back as long as people keep feeding them.

“I would think that’s the majority of the problem,” Meares said. “Definitely having the public not feed the wildlife is important in keeping them away from the area.”