Water Quality and Sampling 

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources samples water quality at all designated swimming beaches in the state park system on a weekly basis during the recreational season. The samples are analyzed at the Environmental Services Program laboratory in Jefferson City, and results are posted online. 

Water samples are analyzed for E. coli, a common indicator species for bacteria. It is normal for E. coli and other bacteria to be found at naturally-occurring levels in ponds, streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Elevated bacteria levels are frequently associated with heavy rains; however, there are a number of other sources that may contribute to elevated bacteria levels, which may pose a health risk. 

Water sample results can help visitors decide whether a particular beach is suitable for swimming, based on the bacteria levels. In accordance with state law, Missouri Revised Statues section 640.080, RSMo, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources will post signs notifying visitors that swimming is not recommended if the geometric mean of the weekly water quality sample results exceeds the equivalent of 190 E. coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water (190 mpn/100 ml). 

Swim Healthy, Stay Healthy

Natural, uncontrolled bodies of water such as streams, lakes and ponds, all have naturally occurring bacteria at certain levels and some may contain pollutants. However, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) indicates that if you practice healthy swimming habits, you can enjoy natural bodies of water and reduce the potential for becoming ill. Learn more about tips to swim healthy, stay healthy by reviewing the DHSS Reducing the Risk of Waterborne Illnesses When Swimming in Natural Bodies of Water brochure.

Missouri State Park Beach Status 

Missouri State Parks Beach Status logo

Click on the name of the state park beach you’re interested in for beach status information and water quality data for that beach. Please note that the sample results provide a snapshot of the water quality at a specific time; however, they may not provide accurate representation of the water quality throughout the entire body of water.