GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

June 15, 2013

Plum Cove passes beach water test

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — Just two days after Plum Cove Beach was closed off for swimming due to bacteria levels that more than doubled state standards, the beach is once again open or swimming with nearly no trace of bacteria left, according to the latest test results.

Test results taken Thursday morning show the beach has less than 10 colony forming units. or living individuals, within 100 milliliters of water, according to Max Schenk, the city’s manager of Environmental Health Services.

Two days earlier, there were 218 colony forming units per 100 milliliters of water, while the state Department of Public Health standard for a swimming beach is 104 living individuals per 100 milliliters.

”We’re all good,” said Max Schenk, the manager of Environmental Health Services.

The bacteria known as Enterococci, which can spur infections, was the cause of the closure earlier this week.

Schenk previously said storm water runoff, recent rain storms, possible combined sewer outflow as a cause of the spike.

Additionally, when storm surges kick up sediment and create movement on the ocean floor, it may release more Enterococci. Sewer runoff travels down the Merrimack River and past Newburyport where it flushes out around Cape Ann, Schenk previously told the Times.

Plum Cove beach was also closed for swimming in the summer of 2011 due to high bacteria levels.

Biomarine Labs, a Gloucester based water and seafood testing company, handles the water testing for Gloucester.

No other city beaches have been closed for swimming this year due to bacteria levels. However, beaches at West Manchester and Tuck’s Point had also been closed previously due to high bacteria levels.

Essex lake restriction

While restrictions were lifted in Gloucester Thursday, new ones were being put in place Friday in Essex.

For the first time in years, water levels in Chebacco Lake have reached dangerous levels because of the amount of rain, Police Cheif Peter Silva said. As a result, there is a no-wake restriction on the lake throughout the weekend.

Silva said Friday any wakes on the lake could cause water to pour into nearby homes.

“The rain has really filled that lake up,” he said.

Essex police worked with Hamilton officers to notify residents and enact the restriction. The boat ramp will also be closed for the weekend, Silva said.

Only headway speeds are allowed, meaning any boater can go just fast enough to put the boat in forward motion and avoid creating any wakes, Silva said.

He estimated this was the first time a wake restriction had to be put into place in nearly seven years.

Essex officials will reevaluate the water levels on Monday, Silva said.

“Some of those properties are very, very close to the water,” he said.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.