HAMPSTEAD – The Town Beach at Sunset Lake was posted with a fecal bacteria advisory on Monday, July 28, and was retested on Wednesday, July 30. As a result of the re-testing, the advisory was lifted on Thursday, July 31, and Hampstead Recreation Director Angie Ingraham said the beach was open as usual.
Freshwater beaches are sampled by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) Mondays through Fridays from June 16 to Aug. 28. Cyanobacteria issues are addressed as needed during the season and the beaches are routinely tested for fecal bacteria.
According to the DES Web site, “New Hampshire analyzes swimming water for indicator organisms to protect public health at beaches. E.coli is the most appropriate organism for freshwater and Enterococci are most appropriate for marine waters. The Beach Program also collects cyanobacteria samples observed at beaches in order to identify possible cyanotoxins. Certain species of cyanobacteria produce harmful toxins that can cause illness in animals, including humans, if ingested in large quantities, or upon contact with the skin or mucous membranes.”
Advisories such as the one for the Town Beach on Sunset Lake last week are issued if the standard at the freshwater swimming beach is 88 counts of E.coli per 100 milliliters of water (counts/ 100 ml) in a single sample. Beach advisories are issued at freshwater beaches when either two samples taken at a beach exceed the standard or when one sample exceeds 158 counts/100 ml.
A beach advisory is posted by DES if the standard is exceeded. While the advisory was posted at the Town Beach, Ingraham said the beach remained open to swimmers who chose to go in the water, and lifeguards were on duty.
According to DES, “A beach may be closed at the discretion of the town. Current advisories are updated as results become available, 24 hours after sample collection. When bacteria counts at designated public beaches are higher than the state standards, an advisory is issued to notify the public, approximately 24 hours after sampling.”
The DES testing program has been in effect for two decades and Public Beach Inspection Program personnel monitor about 170 freshwater public bathing beaches on a monthly basis.