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Sunapee Lake latest NH beach impacted by bacteria; cleared for swimming Tues.
A lifeguard is back on duty at Pawtuckaway State Park in Nottingham on Tuesday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
On Saturday, officials posted advisories at the Mount Sunapee State Park beach after one of three samples showed high levels of fecal coliform bacteria. It was the first time in eight years that do-not swim advisories were posted at the beach.
The state standard for bacterial contamination is 88 counts of E. coli per 100 milliliters of water, nearly three times lower than the EPA recommended level of 235 counts per 100 ml, said Sonya Carlson, beach program coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Services.
Although the state puts up advisories when bacterial levels exceed state standards, no one can stop someone from swimming at the beaches, Carlson said.
She cautioned that other beaches have persistent problems and experience far dirtier water.
Earlier this year, one measurement at Pawtuckaway State Park beach exceeded 2,000 counts per 100 ml.
Although levels at Pawtuckaway — one of the closest freshwater beaches to Manchester — were safe as of last Friday, the beach has been under advisory three times this season. The most recent covered the last two weeks of July.
On Sunday, the head of state parks, Philip Bryce, said this was a tough year for bacterial levels at state beaches. Carlson said the number of beach advisories for the summer so far is 45, compared to an average of 42 at July’s end.
Carlson said water fowl are to blame for most bacterial contaminations, and getting rid of water fowl would be the first step to raising the water quality of beaches with persistent problems.
Instances of contamination of blue-green algae, which is more serious than bacteria, totaled four so far this year. The average for a year is five, she said.
The sample taken Monday at the same spot registered below 2.
The state level translates into a rate that is half the frequency of the EPA standard.
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