Aquatic Park water quality test results delayed; warning signs remain posted

Aquatic Park can be an oasis in the city. Photo: John Dye

Warning notices around West Berkeley’s Aquatic Park lagoon will remain in place through the weekend, the city told Berkeleyside late Friday afternoon.

The city is testing the water weekly due to a spike in fecal bacteria noticed by community members, and confirmed through lab testing, in August. Berkeleyside broke the news of those concerns last week.

The most recent lab results came in more than a week ago. The city told Berkeleyside late Friday that this week’s results won’t be available until Monday.

Ron Torres, who runs the city of Berkeley’s Environmental Health division, said the Labor Day holiday had caused the delay. In the meantime, Torres said the city continues to advise community members to minimize contact with the water.


“Because it’s E. coli, the main concern is just avoiding ingestion,” he said. “Don’t drink the water, not that anybody does.”

According to the Aug. 28 test results, E. coli levels at the north end of the park, sampled two days earlier, came in at 490 on a scale that puts safe levels at 100, city spokesman Matthai Chakko told Berkeleyside last week.

Fecal coliform numbers were up at the north end of the park, too, at 790. The State Water Resources Control Board reports that fecal coliform below 200 MPN per 100 milliliters of water is considered safe for recreational marine waters. (MPN stands for “most probable number” and is a “statistical representation of the results of the standard coliform test,” according to the water board.)

Local water quality experts told Berkeleyside last week that testing standards are shifting from a focus on fecal coliform and E. coli to a test for enterococci.

Torres told Berkeleyside on Friday that the city will be looking into that test and hopes to assess the lagoon weekly on a year-round basis going forward, once funding can be identified for changing its approach. Tests historically have only taken place seasonally beginning in May.