Save The River Reports on Summer Beach Water Quality
Concerns raised about high bacteria levels found at Wilson’s Beach
Clayton, NY (August 24, 2009) – Save The River’s Beach Watch Program monitored six local swimming areas over a five-week period in July and August, providing a snapshot of summer swimming water quality. Overall, the results for this year indicated that the water quality at sampled beaches was within state and federal safe swimming standards but there is continued cause for concern with Wilson Beach in Cape Vincent.
Bacteria levels spiked above healthy water quality standards at Wilson Beach on two occasions, July 13 and July 27, during the sampling period. On those two dates, bacteria levels ranged from 220/ml to 1600/ml. In accordance with New York State Health Department standards, a finding of 61 or higher of bacteria colonies per 100 milliliters of sample water is deemed unsafe water quality at swimming beaches. The samples collected each week are tested for Enterococci, a bacteria found in warm-blooded animals, including humans, which is closely linked to human health impact.
High levels of bacteria can cause health problems such as rashes and gastrointestinal illness, and are most dangerous for the very old, very young or anyone with a compromised immune system. Symptoms of infection include: chills, fever, diarrhea and cramping. To reduce the risk of acquiring a bacteria-related illness, beach goers should employ the following simple safety measures: never swallow swimming water and wash hands after swimming and before eating.
Frequent high levels of bacteria at Wilson’s Beach may be linked with the presence of Cladophora, a type of green algae. Recent scientific studies have indicated that Cladophora can harbor unsafe levels of bacteria. Many of the spikes in bacteria levels at Wilson’s Beach have occurred during times of high algae contamination at that beach. The continued correlation over several years of sampling amongst the two occurrences would suggest a need for caution at Wilson Beach when significant amounts of algae are observed.
Save The River volunteers sampled six sites in 2009: Wilson Beach 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. A fact sheet detailing sampling results for all beaches sampled can be found at Save The River’s website, www.savetheriver.org by clicking on ‘On the Water Programs’ and then ‘BeachWatch’.
“The Beach Watch program is an important snapshot of swimming water quality along the River,” stated Save The River Executive Director, Jennifer Caddick. “Save The River is the only organization sampling the most popular summer swimming spots on the River and providing this important health information to the public. Our goal is to help swimmers make informed decisions about where and when to swim at these beaches.”
Save The River’s Beach Watch Program has been providing swimming water data to the Thousand Islands community since 1999. All samples were taken by Save The River volunteers and analyzed by Converse Laboratories in Watertown, a state certified facility.
Several organizations provided key support to the Beach Watch program in 2009. Samples were collected at Bowes Realty in Clayton and taken to Watertown each week through a sample collection coordination program in conjunction with Converse Laboratories. Jefferson County Water Quality Coordinating Committee provided staff support for the additional sampling at Wilson Beach.
The 2009 sampling results and summary are available on Save The River’s website, ww.savetheriver.org, as well as prior year results. During the swimming season, interested beach goers can sign up for Save The River’s weekly notification of Beach Watch information. To sign up, call Save The River at (315) 686-2010 or e-mail email@example.com.
Fact Sheet: Beach Watch Results 2009 (PDF)