Numurkah Leader
Lake Numurkah ‘closed’ after positive E. coli test

MOIRA Shire has posted notices advising residents and visitors to avoid contact with the water in Lake Numurkah, due to potentially unsafe levels of E.Coli being detected in the lake.

E. coli (Escherichia coli) are a group of bacteria, some strains of which can cause serious illness. 

E. coli bacteria  are found in the gut of nearly all people and animals; whilst some strains cause no illness at all, others cause minor illness, and yet others cause serious illness.

It is not yet known which strains of E. coli have been detected in Lake Numurkah.

Two small signs were erected at the western end of the lake on Friday afternoon, one by the carpark on Madigan Street and another at the corner of Quinn and Russell Streets.  

The signs advise readers to avoid kayaking, fishing, swimming or undertaking any other activity that brings you in contact with the water.

It also advises that pets should not enter or drink the water.

Residents living adjacent to the lake, many of whom regularly use the lake for recreational activities, had not been separately informed of any issues, and only became aware of the signs  when a photo of one was posted to the Numurkah Facebook group on Monday afternoon.

Glenice and Tony Bosse, who live in a lake front property on Reynolds Drive, told the Leader their teenage grandson and his friends had been kayaking and swimming in the lake on Friday evening, and Tony had been kayaking there on Saturday evening.

“We didn’t know anything about the signs until a neighbour told us today,” Glenice said.

“We definitely haven’t received any information from the shire telling us to stay out of the lake,” Tony said.

Glenice and Tony’s neighbour Peter Kam said he was also unaware of any issue until he noticed one of the signs on Sunday night.

“We were driving home and I saw something attached to one of the posts on Madigan Street. It was dark, and I just noticed the headlight catch something, so we turned around and I got out and had a look, and saw the notice,” he said.

“That was the first I knew about it, and I wouldn’t have known anything otherwise, because we hadn’t been informed by council.”

Moira Shire General Manager Community Sally Rice said in a statement to the Leader that Moira Shire Council undertakes routine water quality monitoring at Lake Numurkah.

“The recent round of testing indicated potentially unsafe levels of E-coli bacteria in the water, therefore we are advising people and their pets to avoid coming into contact with the lake water while we undertake further testing,” Ms Rice said.

“We have been working with the Lakeside Country Club and we will keep the community informed as the results of further testing become available.”  

Moira Shire did not provide any information regarding which strains of E. coli had been detected, or what levels had been detected.

Any employee of Lakeside Country Club, who asked not to be named, told the Leader that the resort’s owners had been informed of the test results, and had informed the resort’s guests to avoid activities that would bring them into contact with the water in the lake.

The resort’s owners, Lakeside Numurkah Developers, were unavailable for comment when contacted by the Leader.  

Minor illnesses caused by some strains include traveller’s diarrhoea, food poisoning and urinary tract infections.

Serious illnesses caused by some strains of E. coli include pneumonia, meningitis in newborn babies and inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis).

E. coli can also cause a serious illness known as haemolytic uraemic syndrome, which damages the blood cells and can cause the kidneys to fail. 

Elderly people, young children and people with a compromised immune system are at greatest risk of contracting a severe disease. 

Contact with contaminated water is one way to contract illnesses caused by certain strains of E. coli.