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Greenbrier lake opens for season

May 01, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

GREENBRIER STATE PARK - The lake at Greenbrier State Park opens for the swimming season today with a new policy regarding diapers and a clean bill of health after approximately 76 people reported getting sick last year, a park official said Friday.

After a lot of rain last spring, a water quality problem that caused the lake to be closed to swimming and Tropical Storm Isabel, Greenbrier State Park Manager Dan Spedden said he expects a banner season this year.

The weather has been beautiful and weekend campground reservations are booking up quickly, Spedden said.

A water quality test taken last week by the Washington County Health Department was excellent, Spedden said.

The lake was closed to swimming last August after several people reported getting sick, Spedden said.

While park officials received a good water quality test late in the season, they decided to keep the lake closed rather than reopen for a few days, he said.

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Spedden said 76 people were interviewed to see if their illness could be related to the lake's water quality.

The final toll was 65 people reporting to have had diarrhea with a fever within a time frame that meant the illness could have been related to swimming in the lake, Spedden said.

Five people tested positive for shigellosis, which is caused by shigella bacteria - a fecal coliform bacteria, Spedden said.

After ruling out a sewage dump or sewage system failure, park officials determined the sicknesses more than likely were caused by a swimmer, Spedden said. Two diapers were found in the swimming area.

So the park instituted new rules this season that require babies to wear rubber pants over their diapers or wear swim diapers, Spedden said.

Swim diapers will be sold at the concession stands for those people who arrive unprepared because they do not know about the new policies, Spedden said.

After the concession stands close around 6 or 7 p.m., park rangers will have the diapers available in their cars, he said. Swimming is permitted until 9 p.m.

Ten baby-changing stations were installed in the women's and men's restrooms at a cost of about $2,000, Spedden said. The bathrooms are open from 8 a.m. until sunset.

The lake will be open on weekends in May and September and every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day, he said.

Park officials still are cleaning up from Tropical Storm Isabel.

Since winter could have and did cause more tree limb damage, park officials waited until after winter to begin that part of the cleanup, Spedden said.

The cleanup will be finished by May 31, Spedden said. The park was given approximately $77,000 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for hurricane cleanup.

The park raised about $7,500 last fall by having local people and a logger come in and get some of the fallen trees, he said.

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