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  • Writer's pictureDylan Kelly

Massachusetts Beach Closures Due to High Bacteria Levels - See the list

PC: Egorova Svetlana - Creative Commons - Dunes Crane Beach Ipswich Massachusetts Low Tide

On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced the closure of at least 24 beaches to swimming due to excessive bacteria levels. This marks a new high for the summer season, surpassing the 19 beaches that were previously closed in June.

The affected beaches, spanning locations from Boston to Nantucket, include three beaches in Boston. The DPH's Interactive Beach Water Quality Dashboard, which updates daily at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. during the beach season, reported that 18 of these beaches were closed due to elevated E. coli levels. Beaches are deemed unsafe for swimming if high bacteria levels persist for two consecutive days.

Among the closed beaches are Constitution Beach in Boston, Wollaston Beach in Quincy, and Shannon Beach in Winchester. The frequency of water quality testing varies from daily to monthly, depending on the beach's likelihood of encountering water quality issues.

A warning on the DPH dashboard states, “If a beach is closed, do not swim or enter the water at that location to avoid risk of illness.” Swimming in contaminated water can cause gastrointestinal, respiratory, and dermatological symptoms such as vomiting, sore throat, and skin rashes.

Additional closures include beaches affected by harmful cyanobacteria blooms or other issues, such as Walden Pond in Concord, Miacomet Pond in Nantucket, and Camp Naumkeag in Salem.

Summer beach closures are not uncommon in Massachusetts. Last July, 53 beaches were closed to swimming, and 40 beaches faced similar closures the previous year, according to a DPH spokesperson. Most closures occur after rainstorms, which can elevate bacteria levels in the water.

Seventeen of the affected beaches are managed by the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). A DCR spokesperson noted that beach closures are a “common occurrence.” The DCR conducts weekly water quality tests at state-owned beaches, with follow-up tests conducted within two days if high bacteria levels are detected.

Beaches will reopen for swimming once bacteria levels return to safe levels. Although swimming is restricted, the beaches remain open to visitors.

For a complete list of closed beaches, please refer to the DPH website.


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