Bacterial pollution closes Ice House Pond

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Ice House Pond was closed Thursday due elevated levels of enterococcus bacteria. — File Photo by Michael Cummo

Ice House Pond in West Tisbury was closed this morning to swimming after tests Wednesday revealed elevated levels of enterococcus bacteria, according to Land Bank superintendent Ian Peach. Enterococcus can cause several types of infection, and has come to plague hospitals with VRE, a strain resistant to vancomycin, the most potent medicine in the antibiotic arsenal.

The very earliest the pond could reopen would be Friday afternoon, Peach said, provided the next round of tests shows a diminished bacterial count. Peach noted Ice House was closed for just under a week in late July because of enterococcus. He suggested the cause could be fecal matter from birds or other animals, runoff, seepage from adjacent properties, or other “anthropogenic sources.” If bacteria levels continue to spike in the pond this season, Peach said, the Land Bank may commission more in-depth testing to isolate the exact cause and explore preventive measures.