Update, 6:15 p.m. The city tells Berkeleyside it will not be able to remove the signs Friday night. They will now be taken down Saturday morning.
Original story: Bacteria levels in the water at Aquatic Park have been within normal limits for the past two weeks, prompting city staff to tell the community Friday evening that it’s all right to go back in the water.
As of 5:45 p.m., staffers were heading to the West Berkeley lagoon to remove warning signs that have been posted there since August telling people to avoid all contact with the water.
Kelly Wallace, interim director of Berkeley’s Health, Housing and Community Service Department, told Berkeleyside the city got the latest results Friday afternoon. They showed, for the second week in a row, that bacteria levels were “significantly below the standards,” he said. (Exact figures were not immediately available but Berkeleyside will share them when they are.)
The city is still trying to figure out why the bacteria levels spiked in the first place, he said.
“Now that it’s low again, it’s hard to know where it came from because it’s gone,” Wallace said.
The city has been testing the water at Aquatic Park weekly to monitor fecal bacteria levels for both enterococci and E. coli. Staff has also taken additional steps to get to the root of the problem, but no definitive answers about the bacteria source has yet been identified.
Wallace said it’s now safe for people to use the water for kayaking and other water sports. The city will continue its weekly testing, too.
Some community members have noted that the water level is already quite high for this time of year, which could cause flooding and other problems when the rains come. Staff is still looking into that issue, said Wallace.
“People are saying that’s a concern and we’re seeing that as well,” he said.