So is Purcell Lake water safe to swim in?

The short answer is yes based on E. coli tolerance levels published by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2012. Or maybe not based on what council member Jay Tate says is the bacteria load limit used in Oklahoma City. 

City manager Dale Bunn said the city tests the lake water for the presence of E. coli bacteria every Tuesday and publishes the results online if the E. coli concentration exceeds 320 viable cells  in a 100 mL (3.38 fluid ounces) sample.

The EPA standard, Bunn added, is 410 viable cells.

Tate wants results posted when E. coli exceeds 235 parts per million. 

Council member Danny Jacobs asked how the EPA limit compares to the Department of Environmental Quality.

As it turns out, DEQ doesn’t address limits of E. coli bacteria in recreational waters and neither does the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

In fact, Oklahoma’s lakes aren’t tested for the presence of E. coli bacteria unless the lake is a source of drinking water.

When Tate said he wanted the published results to include Oklahoma City’s 235 tolerance, the council balked.

“You don’t need three numbers,” city attorney Ted Haxel pointed out.

“There have been no reports of anyone getting sick,” council member Graham Fishburn added.

Mayor Ted Cox chastised Tate for putting his E. coli concerns on the agenda, telling Tate he could have dealt directly with Bunn.

In other business, the council:

  • approved an interlocal agreement with Lexington for the maintenance, repair, upkeep and operation of light fixtures on the new Purcell-Lexington bridge;
  • voted to de-annex a tract of land south of Juneau Street and between South Canadian Avenue and the railroad tracks;
  • declared 120 N. 6th Ave., a dilapidated structure;
  • approved an ordinance amendment to measure distance door-to-door between a retail marijuana establishment and the nearest residential structure;
  • approved the City of Purcell Emergency Operations Policy;
  • approved a design expenditure to reconstruct the terminal apron at the Purcell Municipal Airport;
  • approved $60,398.99 for Telco Supply to install a new phone system for police, fire, city hall, city yard, golf course and Multi-Purpose Building;
  • approved the purchase of two Tahoe 4X4 police units from Vance Chevrolet for $36,679;
  • approved reducing the speed limit on State Highway 39 west of Green Avenue to the curve from 65 to 55 mph;
  • appointed Kevin Little and Josh Huff to the Parks and Recreation Board;
  • accepted Silver Star Construction’s $330,800 bid for a 10-foot-wide asphalt walking trail at Purcell Lake;
  • approved $182,609 to construct three age-appropriate playgrounds at McCurdy Park; and
  • approved budget amendments in the amount of $884 and $3,163.25.
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