Updated August 4
Oak Bluffs health agent Meegan Lancaster has reopened the lagoon side of Eastville after it was closed due to a sample with a significantly high amount of enterococci, a bacteria found in fecal matter.
The beach’s new geomean is 34.31, which is below state standard of 35, and allows for the reopening.
On Tuesday, the beach, which is tested weekly, had a sample that showed 981 colonies per 100 ml resulting in a geometric mean of 49.10 — both above state thresholds.
Under the state’s minimum sanitary code for marine water, an enterococci sample can not exceed 104 colonies per 100 ml and the geometric mean of the most recent five enterococci levels within the same season can’t exceed 35 colonies per 100 ml.
Due to that one high sample, the beach’s five most recent enterococci samples exceed the state’s threshold, prompting the closure and signage. If people are infected with the bacteria it can cause gastrointestinal distress.
Oak Bluffs health agent Meegan Lancaster told The Times the high result could be a combination of things.
“We’re checking a lot of boxes here. We didn’t have anyone swimming, there’s some birds, we didn’t see any dogs, we found some trash,” Lancaster said. “Animal and human waste we find is usually dog poop or goose poop and wrack, the seaweedy stuff.”
Open water beaches in town are tested monthly and inside beaches are tested once a week.
Lancaster said additional testing is being conducted.
“It’s kind of unusual,” Lancaster said of the high test sample. “It could be a bunch of factors coming together, you know there could have been something in the specific part of the water column that they were sampling. That’s why you want to do that additional test.”
Updated to include beach reopening. — Ed.