Residents know and newcomers invariably discover that Missouri is a doubly landlocked state. So, the phrase, “a day at the beach,” actually means spending time at one of the state’s 17 swimming beaches constructed along the shores of some of the state’s scenic lakes.
While most beaches are open during the summer months, beaches are sometimes closed for water testing, and it’s a good idea to check with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources before heading to your favorite body of water. Checking is as easy as visiting the department’s website at https://dnr.mo.gov/asp/beaches.
The department samples water quality at all designated swimming beaches in the state park system on a weekly basis during the recreational season. Water samples are analyzed for E. coli, a common indicator species for bacteria, and other bacteria sources. While elevated bacteria levels are associated with heavy rains, there are a number of other sources that can contribute to health risks.
If bacteria levels reach a high enough level, the department and Missouri State Parks will post signs notifying visitors that swimming is not recommended. Advisories or closings may also be posted due to potential conditions at the beach. Visitors can also sign up to receive email updates from the department.
According to the latest status report issued Friday, all public beaches in the state-park system are open with two exceptions. Swimming is not recommended at Wakonda State Park in La Grange, Missouri, which is under an advisory, and Finger Lakes State Park in Columbia, Missouri, is closed for the season while a dam-repair project is underway. For more information, or to sign up for updates, visit https://dnr.mo.gov/asp/beaches.