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An aerial view of Presque Isle

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Presque Isle is a curved sand peninsula jutting into Lake Erie and is home to the only surf beach in Pennsylvania. There are twelve permitted public bathing beaches along Pennsylvania's Lake Erie shoreline. Eleven of those are located on Presque Isle State Park which is managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). The one other permitted beach is located in and managed by North East Township, Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of State Parks, operates the beaches on Presque Isle while the health and safety conditions of the beaches are regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Each beach has three sampling stations. The eleven Presque Isle State Park beaches are sampled twice a week during the swimming season which is from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. The beach in North East Township is sampled once a week during the swimming season.

If the E. coli level in a water sample is greater than or equal to 235 cfu/100ml, but less than 1,000 cfu/100ml, the beach will be posted with a swimming advisory. Swimming will be permitted and the public will be informed that the E. coli level exceeds standards and what precautions to take if they choose to enter the water. If the E. coli is equal to or greater than 1,000 cfu/100 ml, the beach will be posted with a swimming restriction and swimming will not be permitted. When an E. coli level drops below 1,000cfu/100ml but remains above 235 cfu/100ml, the beach will be posted as an advisory. Advisories will be lifted only when resampling indicates a bacteria level below 235. If an advisory or a restriction is posted, only the posted beaches will be re-sampled for three consecutive days.

Studies have been conducted looking for the sources of bacterial contamination at the beaches. It has been determined that the bacteria comes from both human and animal sources. And, since levels tend to be considerably higher during and after wet weather, it appears that a major source is storm water runoff from the land.

Additional studies are being conducted to better determine the sources of contamination. In addition, scientists are working to develop a model to predict when bacterial levels will be high based on rainfall, wind, stream flow, etc.

Hotline for Beach Conditions in Pennsylvania at Lake Erie:
Lifeguard Headquarters, 814-833-0526

Designated Beach Areas At Lake Erie

Presque Isle State Park

North East Township Beach

State Contact For Pennsylvania Beaches

Scott White (c-swhite@state.pa.us)
Erie County Department of Health Exit EPA Disclaimer
606 W. 2nd St.
Erie, PA 16507

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