By Michael Virtanen
Three state beaches in the Adirondacks had temporary closures this summer because of high coliform bacteria counts or algae blooms, according to environmental authorities.
Updated reports in mid-September showed some continuing blooms on Champlain and new blooms found on a small lake and a pond in the northern Adirondacks.
The beach at Limekiln Lake in Inlet was closed four times — on July 6, July 23, Aug. 6 and Aug. 8 — because of E. Coli levels above health standards, the Department of Environmental Conservation said.
The high levels were attributed by the department to waste from geese. Some Inlet residents said there wasn’t an issue with geese there and the problem more likely was the state campground’s septic system.
E. Coli is a federally recognized standard for fecal contamination. The state Health Department limit is 235 colonies of bacteria per 100 milliliters of water tested.
Lake George’s Million Dollar Beach was closed one day at the beginning of the season, according to the DEC.
The popular beach at the south end of Lake George closed June 9. It reopened the next day.
The DEC reported in June that extensive testing of the sewer system in the area over the previous year had found one break in a main sewer line, which was repaired, and several compromised lateral connections to private residences that were fixed.
Million Dollar Beach was closed for 10 days in 2017.
Stormwater catch basins and treatment devices in the vicinity of the beach that contained high bacteria levels, likely from accumulated debris and sediment, also were cleaned, the DEC said.
Lake Champlain’s Port Henry Beach in the eastern Adirondacks closed for a week in July because of harmful algae blooms.
The Lake Champlain Committee had posted a high alert for the potentially toxic cyanobacteria also at Bulwagga Bay at Port Henry.
Several algae alerts were posted through the summer for beaches on the Vermont side of the lake, including a high alert Sept. 4 at Blockhouse Point Road in North Hero.
Naturally present in low numbers in most freshwater systems, the blue-green algae’s rapid growth is fueled by warm temperatures and high levels of organic nutrients, which include fertilizer and sewage.
Cyanobacteria can still be an issue in autumn despite cooler temperatures, according to environmental officials.
The DEC reported “small localized” blooms in multiple spots on Champlain in its Sept. 21 report. The Lake Champlain Committee, which monitors that lake’s conditions, identified one on the New York side, with a low alert at Fox Run Way in Westport, and several on the Vermont side.
“Cooler, windy weather blew into the region late in the week providing a welcome change in temperature,” the committee reported. “The cooler temperatures can disrupt or move blooms around. They may also stimulate lake turn over in smaller lakes and ponds, making phosphorus more available to feed blooms.”
The DEC has identified suspected or confirmed algae blooms in 98 lakes statewide this year. They included a suspected small localized bloom on Barnum Pond reported Sept. 12 and a laboratory-confirmed bloom on Eagle Pond on Sept. 15. Both are in Franklin County.
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