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DES issues no-swim advisories at several beaches

  • Adan Villa, 6, of Manchester runs along the beach in front of the advisory sign at Sunapee State Park Monday. His family came up to swim and barbeque but discovered that the advisory said no swimming.

    Adan Villa, 6, of Manchester runs along the beach in front of the advisory sign at Sunapee State Park Monday. His family came up to swim and barbeque but discovered that the advisory said no swimming.

  • A mallard duck walks in front of the sign warning people not to swim at Sunapee State Park Monday.

    A mallard duck walks in front of the sign warning people not to swim at Sunapee State Park Monday.

  • A mallard duck walks in front of the sign warning people not to swim at Sunapee State Park Monday.

    A mallard duck walks in front of the sign warning people not to swim at Sunapee State Park Monday.

  • Adan Villa, 6, of Manchester runs along the beach in front of the advisory sign at Sunapee State Park Monday. His family came up to swim and barbeque but discovered that the advisory said no swimming.
  • A mallard duck walks in front of the sign warning people not to swim at Sunapee State Park Monday.
  • A mallard duck walks in front of the sign warning people not to swim at Sunapee State Park Monday.

Several no-swimming advisories are in effect at beaches across the state because officials have found high bacteria levels or blue-green algae blooms in the water.

At Sunapee State Park in Newbury, a sign has warned swimmers since Saturday not to get in the water because recent state testing showed high levels of fecal bacteria. Beachgoers encounter a similar sign at Griffin Beach on Webster Lake in Franklin, also in place since Saturday.

“The bacteria levels indicate there could be something bad in there,” said Sonya Carlson, beach program coordinator with the state’s Department of Environmental Services. “Statistically the chances are worse of getting sick.”

At several other beaches including Phillips Pond’s Seeley Town Beach in Sandown and Otternic Pond in Hudson, the DES has posted no-swimming advisories because of the presence of cyanobacteria – also known as and recognizable as blue-green algae – in the water.

“We recommend you don’t swim,” Carlson said. “We don’t think the water is suitable for swimming or wading.”

The state currently has six warnings issued, on average with past years, Carlson said. Overall, this year’s testing results are faring better than last year’s.

So far this season, the DES has issued 45 advisories for high bacteria levels and five for the detection of blue-green algae.

The DES tests the state’s bodies of water three times a year and out of the 950 tested, about 60 have had issues this year, Carlson said. One group of 10 to 15 bodies of water, including Silver Lake State Park in Hollis, have had repeated water issues.

There, the DES has warned against swimming since the end of July after officials discovered blue-green algae. It’s the third time this summer the department has issued a swimming advisory at Silver Lake State Park.

After the DES issues a no-swimming advisory, the department continues testing until officials determine the bacteria or cyanobacteria levels are back to normal.

On Saturday, DES lifted an advisory at Otter Brook Lake Beach in Keene that had been in place since the beginning of July when officials discovered high levels of fecal bacteria in the water. Last week, the DES lifted a similar two-week-long advisory at Pawtuckaway State Park in Nottingham.

“It seems to have some sort of goose problem, around 40 resident geese,” Carlson said. The birds’ feces can lead to the above-normal bacteria count, which was high throughout the two-week advisory period, Carlson said.

In some cases an advisory may last only a few days, which can happen if a big rainstorm washes contaminants from the beach into the water before a test, Carlson said.

Yesterday, officials retested the water at Sunapee State Beach and at Griffin Beach in Franklin. The most recent results will be released today. If officials determine the water is safe, the advisories will be lifted. The most recent beach advisory information can be found on the Department of Environmental Services website, under the Beach Inspection Program tab.

The cyanobacteria advisory at the beaches in Hudson, Hollis and Sandown won’t be lifted until the blue-green algae blooms are no longer visible, according to the DES website.

The blue-green algae or cyanobacteria can contain toxins that cause skin and intestinal issues, but only under the right conditions. “We don’t know why it makes toxins, how many different toxins it can make,” Carlson said.

So far, the DES hasn’t received reports of any human health issues linked to the algae blooms, Carlson said. Still, the department recommends people don’t swim when the water contains the blue-green algae – which usually “looks gross,” Carlson said. “If the water looks gross, don’t go swimming.”

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at amorris@cmonitor.com.)

Could be two causes. The push for unbridled "access" to the lake by the anti-private property crowd, as 75% of the boats in Sunapee are from MA/CT. Secondly, the pipes for water to Mt Sunapee are located right next to the beach...perhaps they are sucking the pollution directly to the shore.

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