Back to the Beach, With Feces

With the heat of summer comes dangerous and often unexplained contamination of U.S. beaches by E.coli and fecal coliform.

In California, a San Mateo County agency recently received a grant to discover what’s creating E.coli pollution at several harborside beaches on the Pacific.

Seagull waste, a leaky sewer line and urban runoff are all candidates, and according to The San Mateo County Times, people won’t keep off the beaches in spite of warning signs.

The Bennington Banner reports that the shores of Vermont’s Lake Shaftsbury are closed to swimmers after officials discovered “shockingly high” levels of E.coli contamination.

Locals hypothesize that geese are the problem, but deterring them could be complicated. One idea would involve getting barking dogs to run along beaches all day.

Geese may also be the culprits at Virginia’s Lake Montclair, where high E.coli readings have put three beaches off-limits.

But some residents say geese are a problem everywhere, but just one lake has problems.

A California study has shown that enclosed beaches on lakes and oceans are likely to build up contamination over time due to a lack of open currents.


“County probes bacteria at beaches”
InsideBayArea (CA), August 1, 2007

“Shaftsbury E. coli count is ‘shocking'”
Bennington Banner (VT), July 28, 2007

“Bacteria force beach closing”
Potomac News, August 4, 2007

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