Retested beaches pass muster


Two days after several Island public beaches were closed due to high bacteria levels public health officials, on Thursday, August 19, declared the beaches safe.

Dave Caron, chairman of the Oak Bluffs board of health, told The Times the morning of August 19 that Oak Bluffs beaches were safe and open for swimming, based on the latest round of test results,

Long Point Beach, which fronts on the ocean, and freshwater Long Pond were reopened the same day, Chris Egan, up-Island Trustees of Reservations manager, said in an email to The Times.

West Tisbury health agent John Powers called The Times that afternoon and said that based on the latest test results, the Land Bank’s Sepiessa Point Beach was also open.

Health officials in Oak Bluffs and West Tisbury closed public beaches after water tests taken Monday, Aug. 16 indicated high levels of enterococci bacteria.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), enterococci bacteria are an indicator organism that may mean water is contaminated by fecal coliform bacteria.

The beach closings occurred during one of the busiest weeks of the summer season, and one day before President Barack Obama and his family arrived for a 10-day vacation.

On Aug. 18 West Tisbury health agent John Powers confirmed that Long Point Beach, on the south shore fronting the Atlantic Ocean, Long Cove Pond, and Sepiessa Point Beach on Tisbury Great Pond were closed to swimming.

In Oak Bluffs, health agent Shirley Fauteux said she closed Inkwell Beach and Pay Beach along Sea View Avenue; Eastville Beach near the temporary Lagoon Pond Drawbridge; and Medeiros Cove in Lagoon Pond .

Beach closings have been a regular occurrence along the Massachusetts coast this summer.

High levels of enterococcus can cause skin irritation, vomiting, or diarrhea.