Sengekontacket Pond will reopen for shellfishing on Friday, August 2. The pond has been closed to shellfishing since July 12, due to contamination from pollutants draining into the pond with heavy recent rainfall.
Constables for Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, the two towns that share the popular salt water pond, are required to close Sengekontacket Pond for five days when rainfall amounts exceed a set limit.
In the past, state officials had ordered the pond closed to shellfishing all summer because of high levels of coliform bacteria. In 2012, for the first time in five summers, most of Sengekontacket Pond was open to shellfishing, except immediately after heavy rain.
Under a new agreement with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), the pond must be closed to shellfishing in July when rainfall exceeds 0.2 inches. In August, the standard is more lenient, one inch. In each case, the pond must remain closed for a minimum of five days.
Under the agreement, when rainfall exceeds two inches, the pond must be closed until testing shows the bacteria counts in the water indicate that shellfish taken from the pond is safe to eat.
Typically, harmful bacteria increases after rain, because animal feces washes from roadways and beaches into the pond. Clams can accumulate the bacteria, which can cause nausea, vomiting, fever, and diarrhea. The symptoms can be more severe among people with weaker immune systems.