Water Testing Shows Four Places Swimmers Should Use Caution
Water quality testing conducted Aug. 8 by the South River Federation and the West/Rhode Riverkeeper‘s offices found a couple of spots with high bacteria counts this week, including London Town Beach 5, Pine Whiff and Holly Hills in Edgewater and Columbia Beach in Shady Side.
In the South River, London Town Beach Five in Woodland Beach (Almshouse Creek) had elevated bacteria two weeks in a row, with no significant rain events that could lay the blame on runoff. Holly Hill was over the EPA acceptable rate of 104—with a reading of 130—but way better than last week’s 1510. Use caution swimming off the docks in that area. Columbia Beach has been low most of the season, but jumped to 118 this week.
High bacteria counts can come from pet waste, sewage outflow, boat discharge and other sources. If you do come into contact with water at these sites, wash off with warm water and soap. If you develop an infection, seek medical attention.
If your area consistently has high readings, talk to a riverkeeper about further investigating trouble spots and potential action plans. Last year Glen Isle’s bacteria counts were so high that the Anne Arundel County Department of Health closed the beach for swimming. They got area geese to discontinue using their beach by hanging pie plates and CDs on a string across the sandy section of the beach. Geese don’t like shiny things. The geese then left. The readings for the last three weeks on the geese-free beach were: 6, 26 and 12.
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Swimmers who choose to use the area should exercise caution because high bacteria counts can put swimmers at increased risk for skin infections, ear infections and gastrointestinal disorders (cramping, diarrhea and vomiting). Caution should be taken with seafood obtained from these areas (throw it back).