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Old June 28th, 2006, 04:49 PM
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scubadubadog scubadubadog is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2005
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Thumbs up Merrymeeting Lake Water Quality

It looks, (to me an amateur), like the lake is very low in E. coli and that it is safe to swim. There's been some concern about high E. coli counts at many lakes this summer because of all the run-off from the excessive rains and flooding of septic systems in some areas. I just got the results back from Robert Craycraft's lab at UNH for the testing for E. coli bacteria in the lake. I grabbed water samples from the Town Beach, the dam, the "Flats" on North Shore, two places in Elly Cove, the Sawtooth, and at the midpoint of the eastern end where a recent analysis of drinking water showed high E. coli levels. Please note that Bob's lab is not a state certified lab for the purposes of making these determinations, but the State labs are swamped, (pardon the pun ), this year. So we took the initiative to at least get some type of analysis done until the State can do its own testing. Also note that if your drinking water comes from the lake, the accepted cfu/100 ml is zero!! I know that many camps on the lake have taken their drinking water directly from the lake for years without any problem, but I would never recommend that. DES recommends that you test a well every 3-5 years and if any contaminant levels are high, test every year. Maybe if you're still taking water directly from the lake you should consider testing it every year? It's your call.

I've copied the results from Bob's email as well as a section from the DES website about what are the accepted safe levels of E. coli for swimming areas in lakes.

Bob's email:


The results are in for the June 27 samples and all E coli results were low. The results are as follows and all data are reported as colony forming units / 100 mls

Elly Cove East 6 cfu/100mls
Town Beach 1 cfu/100mls
The "Flats" <1 cfu/100mls
Saw Tooth 1 cfu/100mls
mid-East-end 5 cfu/100mls
Elly Cove West 1 cfu/100mls
ND Dam 1 cfu/100mls

I suspect the E coli were significantly higher at the Beach following use during the hot day yesterday but the value in the morning was well below the threshold of closing a beach to contact recreation. Let me know if you need any additional information.

Here is what the DES website, , says about E. coli in swimming areas:

The New Hampshire Public Beach Program
DES's public beach inspection is operated from mid-June to Labor Day. About 170 public bathing beaches on lakes, rivers, and impoundments are inspected monthly, while coastal public beaches are inspected on a weekly basis. An inspector collects three bacteria samples from each beach, takes note of potential problem areas, inspects the toilet facilities, and confers with lifeguards on duty.
E. coli is the bacteria used as a standard for New Hampshire freshwater beaches. E. coli is an indicator organism that can easily be cultured in a 24-hour period. The state standard for freshwater public swimming areas is 88 counts/100 mL. Statistically, as E. coli increases, the risk of contracting a waterborne disease increases. At our seacoast beaches, Enterococci is the indicator organism used; a count of 104-counts/100 mL signifies that bathing may not be safe. Each bathing facility is notified within a 48-hour period if the bacteria standards are violated. Beaches that reflect bacteria counts at the standard range are resampled while counts that exceed the standard range are issued a beach advisory and are posted.
Elevated bacteria levels can result from watershed runoff, aquatic birds-especially geese, numerous swimmers, beach location and current weather conditions. Hot, humid conditions at beaches that get little or no water circulation often result in unhealthy bacteria levels.
Whether you are swimming at a natural beach or a public facility, look for signs that may reflect the water quality. Check the water clarity, use your nose to determine foul odors, check any available records, look for aquatic birds, and check for floating substances in the water.
For more information about the Public Beach and Swimming Facilities Inspection Program, please contact Jody Connor, DES Limnology Center, (603) 271-3414.

Last edited by webmaster; June 29th, 2006 at 09:33 AM.
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