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Swimmers ordered out of the water at Porter Beach

The Porter Fire Department responded possible spill or algae bloom Lake Michigan near Dune Acres Porter Beach Monday June 17.

The Porter Fire Department responded to a possible spill or algae bloom in Lake Michigan near Dune Acres and Porter Beach on Monday, June 17. | Post-Tribune photo

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Updated: July 19, 2013 6:21AM



PORTER BEACH — A beach closure stretching from Porter Beach to Michigan City will be extended until mid-morning Tuesday as state water quality officials try to determine what substance or chemical led to swimmers being ordered out of the water Monday afternoon.

Several Porter Fire Department vehicles, an incident response truck towing an inflatable boat and National Lakeshore Park rangers converged on Porter Beach around 1:45 p.m. Monday. Rangers instructed everybody to exit the water due to what was initially believed to be an oil spill in the waters adjacent to Dune Acres or Porter Beach near Dunes State Park.

Officer Gene Davis from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said Porter County Hazmat Team determined that whatever it is in the water isn’t oil-based, but a team from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management is currently testing samples. He said it could be some sort of algae bloom or something from nearby industry. Until they know more, swimmers aren’t allowed in the lake, he said.

“We’re not 100 percent sure what it is at this point,” Davis said. “Until we have a better idea of what it is, we’re recommending people stay out of the water.”

Porter Beach was very crowded with several hundred visitors on what was the first beach-worthy day of summer, with temperatures approaching 90 degrees. Many of the beach goers were in the water when instructed to leave the waters.

Wheatfield resident Melissa Capellari and her sister Jennifer Hall, of Crown Point, brought Capellari’s two daughters to enjoy a day at the beach, but the girls were disappointed they couldn’t swim.

“The girls are bummed, but we’ve tried to make the best of it,” Hall said. “The park has lots of stuff for everybody to do.”

Lifeguards on ATVs were patrolling the beach and made several people wading in the water get out, but inevitably kids were still playing around at the water’s edge with their buckets.

Valparaiso resident Dolores Negrete said officials at the park gate didn’t tell them about the swimming ban when they came into the park.

“But as we were walking up, a beachgoer told us that we can’t go into the water,” Negrete said. “Now, the older kids are headed to Flint Lake, and we’ll take the younger kids to the splash pad to try and make do.”



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