Bad times as Good Harbor Creek closed by high bacteria levels
Ipswich Local News
John P. Muldon
GLOUCESTER— The Gloucester Health Department has said that the creek at Good Harbor Beach will stay closed for “the foreseeable future, due to high bacteria levels.”
“The closure is restricted to the creek only; Good Harbor Beach itself remains open and swimming can safely continue,” the department said in an update on Monday afternoon.
Good Harbor Beach and its creek are tested weekly to ensure water quality and safety. Recent testing shows higher-than-safe levels of enterococci bacteria in the creek, which can cause infections, bacteremia, and endocarditis.
“Enterococci are bacteria that live in the intestinal tracts of warm-blooded animals, including humans, and therefore indicate possible contamination of streams and rivers by fecal waste,” according to the federal EPA’s website.
“These pathogens can sicken swimmers and others who use rivers and streams for recreation or eat raw shellfish or fish,” it said.
“Other potential health effects can include diseases of the skin, eyes, ears, and respiratory tract. Eating fish or shellfish harvested from waters with fecal contamination can also result in human illness,” the EPA said.
“Important clinical infections caused by Enterococcus include urinary tract infections, bacteremia, bacterial endocarditis, diverticulitis, meningitis, and spontaneous bacterial peritonitis,” Wikipedia said.
The creek was initially closed for the day — “out of an abundance of caution” — on June 3, then temporarily on June 10 and 11, and was closed for the foreseeable future on June 17, the health department said.
“A preliminary survey of the shoreline upstream from the creek has revealed no obvious signs of pollution,” it added.
The city will sample water upstream to narrow the possible source(s) of the problem. Results will be shared with the state Division of Marine Fisheries, which also conducts sampling in the area due to active seasonal shellfish beds at the north end of Good Harbor.
Signs will be posted along the creek informing the public about the ban.