BURLINGTON, Vt.– On a sunny August day, one of Burlington’s busiest beaches was left practically vacant.
“The reason we had to shut down was the high testing levels for E.coli,” said Cindi Wight, Director of Burlington Parks & Rec.
Test results forced the Parks & Rec Department to close Leddy Beach Friday, sending hopeful beachgoers back home.
“We were just going to have lunch on the beach but I can’t manage the smell,” said Danielle Lyons of Milton.
The beach was closed for 2 days last month due to cyanobacteria, a separate and ongoing risk on Lake Champlain. This is the first instance Leddy was shut down due to E.coli levels which officials say can fluctuate overnight from heavy rainfall.
“You get a lot of runoff and whatever’s on the ground is going to run right into the lake,” Wight said.
That includes dog waste, from the animals swimming in the lake and walking on the beach. While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what caused the spike in levels, Wight said it’s been a recent hurdle.
“We’re having issues with dogs on the beach and they’re not supposed to be on the beach,” Wight said. “If there’s feces on the beach, it’s going to run into the lake.”
Despite the warnings, some people hit the water anyway. Health experts say exposure to E.coli bacteria can make you really sick.
“We know that the more fecal matter which is present in the recreational waters, the more likely people are to get sick,” said Sarah Vose, Vermont State Toxicologist. “They’re really taking steps to prevent people from being exposed to biological organisms that could make people sick.”
The beach will remain closed until the E.coli levels go down. Official say they retested the water Friday and expect results Saturday morning.