With media attention surrounding reports that swim areas on various Missouri waterways are unsafe, it is easy to be concerned about local recreational areas. According to the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Barry County residents and visitors can feel secure swimming in and relaxing on Table Rock Lake this year.
"We keep up a vigilant monitoring program for all swim areas, and we keep that information available to the public," said Laurie Driver, U.S. Corps of Engineers public affairs specialist. "Any time a test comes back high we notify the public and close that beach immediately."
Gary Hill, U.S. Corps of Engineers park ranger, conducted tests at four swim areas in Barry County this year. Tests were completed at Eagle Rock, Viney, Viola and Big M recreational areas between May 24 and June 8.
"We test each week during the first six weeks of the recreational season," said Hill. "Then, we test every other week until the last holiday of the season.
"Samples are collected from the left and right side of the beaches," said Hill. "We find a midway point in the water level to take the samples from. The samples are sent to the Stone County Health Department for testing."
All test samples that have been collected this year have shown that swim areas are safe, said Hill. In fact, Hill does not recall collecting an unsafe sample in Barry County since he began working for the Corps 26 years ago.
"As far as I know, we haven't had to close a beach in Barry County since I have been here," said Hill.
Although Barry County's Corps of Engineers recreational areas are safe for swimmers, boaters and other lake users, lake goers should remember to adhere to all water safety rules, including wearing a life jacket when on the water, said Driver.
"Not only do we want to ensure waters are safe for visitors, but we want to make sure visitors are safe on the water," said Driver.
Individuals who have concerns regarding water quality at swim areas are encouraged to contact Hill at 417-334-4101.