MONTE RIO (KPIX 5) — It’s normally the perfect time for those looking to make a splash in the Russian River, but this year part of the fun will be off limits.
Located west of Guerneville, Monte Rio beach is now closed to swimming, wading or water contact due to high levels of bacteria found in the water.
Elevated levels of total coliform and E. coli bacteria — at more than four times the limit — prompted the closure.
For those looking to beat the heat this weekend, you’ll have to by-pass Monte Rio beach in Sonoma County.
Locals say it is the first time in decades the health department has closed it to swimming and is telling everyone to stay out, especially children, the elderly and pets.
Dr. Karen Milman with the Sonoma County Health Department said the coliform they detected can cause gastrointestinal issues.
Warning signs are posted on the beach along with a big notice at the entrance.
The health department says it is still looking for a cause, but the manager of the park told us there were more than 4,000 people here over the holiday weekend.
All three of the river’s dams are closed and the mouth of the river still is not open, which means it’s not a great combination to flush out unwanted bacteria along the beach.
With so many people in the water it’s not uncommon for someone to deposit some fecal matter, according to the health department.
Now that the crowds have cleared out and water has had time to as well, and the health department says E. coli levels are dropping down.
The beach is still closed to swimming through the weekend, though.