PUEBLO — Colorado Parks and Wildlife has closed the swim beach at Lake Pueblo, Rock Canyon, over the Fourth of July weekend because of high bacteria levels in the water. The beach will stay closed throughout the holiday weekend, until it is tested again next week, when they will decided whether or not to reopen it.
The Park Manager for Lake Pueblo, Monique Mullis, said the reason behind the increase in bacteria is unclear. She suggested rain or river flows from more snowmelt could have washed it into the beach. Regardless, swimming is not allowed anywhere else in the lake. However, people can wade into the water.
The closure of Rock Canyon Swim Beach may not stop people from getting out on the water on July Fourth, and those with the park want to make sure everyone stays safe. "Unfortunately, a lot of people mix their boating with drinking," said Mullis.
Lake Pueblo had a BUI charge - boating under the influence - last weekend. "Boats are all out there. You have to be watching out for each other, you have to have your full focus, and you have to not be under the influence of alcohol when you’re out there operating a boat," said Mullis.
Those at the lake on Wednesday said these safety tips are important to remember while enjoying the holiday. "You see the damage that happens when people drink and drive cars, and I mean, it's no different on the lake," said Ty Villers, a former Pueblo resident.
Mullis also mentioned the importance of life jackets. For children under 13, life jackets must be on at all times. "You've got to do a little prep work in the beginning, you've got to be smart, because there’s a lot of people out here. And if you do all that, you should have a really good time," said Mullis.
If parkgoers do see anything strange while on the lake "you can do star C-S-P, that is our dispatch and they are able to get ahold of the rangers," said Mullis.
Mullis also said fireworks are not allowed on any public lands, and that includes sparklers.
Starting on Friday, Operation Dry Water will begin for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. It's a three day heightened enforcement period, meant to stress the dangers of drinking and boating.