E. Coli temporarily shuts Prouty Beach

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — Prouty Beach was temporarily closed today due to high levels of E. Coli discovered for the first time in five years.

E. coli bacteria density should not exceed 235 colonies per 100 milliliters of water in swimming areas. The count for one of the areas at Prouty showed 372 E. Coli bacteria colonies.

The other two samples totaled 56 colonies and 105 colonies which are far below the guidance level.

“Typically, Newport has enough rain activity to keep levels at Prouty Beach far below the safety threshold,” said Parks & Recreation Director Jessica Booth. “This year, with dry weather and an active goose population inhabiting the park, we’ve seen our readings change.”

In Vermont, measuring for E. coli bacteria is the best way to gauge freshwater beach quality for human health.

Generally, E. coli itself does not present a health issue, but its presence indicates that there may be other disease-causing germs in the water.

High levels of E. coli doesn’t necessarily mean a beach is unhealthy or polluted, but it is a general sign that water needs to be inspected and monitored closely for public safety.

Water at Prouty Beach is tested on a weekly basis in three areas where the public recreates most frequently.

Staff at Prouty Campground were disappointed to close the beach, but are not surprised that one particular sample area tested positive.

E. Coli is by far the most common reason for beach closures in Vermont because bacteria from nearby animal feces and stormwater gets washed into ponds and lakes frequently during the summer.

Although rain events have been minimal this year, the Parks & Recreation staff have been dealing with a flock of nuisance geese on the waterfront since early June and their droppings may be to blame.

City officials hope to re-open the swimming area as early as the weekend if results come back negative and water quality returns to normal.

Until then, Parks & Recreation staff encourage swimmers to stay out of the water near Prouty Beach and enjoy the lake safely on a boat, fishing on shore or sunbathing on the sand instead.

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