Uncle Seth’s Pond in West Tisbury reopens to swimming

Updated 11 am, Thursday, June 20

Uncle Seth’s Pond off Lambert’s Cove Road was closed to swimming earlier this week because of high bacteria counts, West Tisbury health agent John Powers told The Times Wednesday.

Thursday morning, town clerk Tara Whiting told The Times that John Powers had received new test results and the pond is open to swimming.

Water samples taken earlier this week showed more than the allowable limit of enterococci bacteria, which indicate the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria, or pathogens, in the water. If ingested, the pathogens can cause a stomach distress or flu-like symptoms.

Under Massachusetts Board of Environmental Health (BEH) regulations, the pond must remain closed to swimmers until it meets both the daily standard for clean water and a formula which considers the five most recent water tests. Heavy rainfall is sometimes responsible for elevated levels.

Enterococci bacteria are typically found in human and animal intestines and are therefore present in sewage.

The BEH advises that swimming in polluted water can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, cough, runny nose, and sneezing, eye and ear symptoms including irritation, earache, and itchiness, dermatological symptoms like skin rash and itching, and flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills.

Most of these symptoms are minor most of the time but can occasionally be more serious, especially in sensitive populations, like immuno-compromised children and the elderly.