What a summer it was for swimming! Once again, local beaches were clean and swimmable all summer long. During a nine week period from July to August, Save The River volunteers monitored water quality at six popular swimming areas along the St. Lawrence River for unsafe levels of E.coli. Save The River’s Beach Watch program provided up-to-date water quality information to the river community, as it has since 1999.
This summer water samples were collected and tested at Wilson Bay in Cape Vincent, Frink Dock in Clayton, Potter’s Beach on Grindstone Island, Lake of the Isles near Wellesley Island, Round Island near Clayton, and Scenic View Park in Alexandria Bay. Each week, Save The River shared the results in the T.I. Sun and on social media.
Several organizations and volunteers provided key support to the Beach Watch program in 2013. Jean and Ron Daly, Brandon Hollis, Abigail Mahoney, Mary and Tom Mitchell, Maria Purcell and Dick Withington took samples every week and delivered them to the Save The River office. The Thousand Islands Land Trust provided staff support for sampling at Potter’s Beach. Each week, samples were held at T.I. Reality in Clayton before being taken to and analyzed by Converse Laboratories in Watertown, a state certified facility. Without the support of these volunteers and organizations, Save The River would not be able to conduct such an extensive water sampling program.
Test results were compared to New York State Department of Health standards for beach swimming water quality. Water at swimming beaches is deemed unhealthy if there are 235 colony-forming units (CFU’s) or higher of E.coli bacteria per 100 milliliters of sample water. None of the samples taken this summer for the Beach Watch program exceeded this guideline.
Exposure to high levels of E.coli bacteria can cause serious health problems. The elderly and young children are especially suceptible. Symptoms of infection include: chills, fever, diarrhea and cramping. To stay safe, be sure to never swallow swimming water and always wash hands after swimming and before eating.
Scientific studies have also indicated that the presence of Cladophora, a type of green algae that occurs naturally in the River and throughout the Great Lakes region, can harbor unsafe levels of bacteria. Swimmers should always look for the presence of Cladophora algae before swimming at most locations on the River.
Click here for a summary and full listing of 2013 results. Be sure to check up on your favorite swimming spots once Beach Watch resumes next summer. Results are always available at the Save The River office in Clayton, and on our website.
To get involved with Beach Watch 2014, call Save The River at (315) 686-2010 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.