Summer swimmin' is easy
Folks huddled under the pavilion at Burlington’s North Beach on Sunday afternoon whenever the occasional shower passed overhead. The rain, though, couldn’t keep Kris Hatfield, his family or a few dozen other beachgoers from wading in the lake. On the eve of summer 2010, Hatfield, 33, of Burlington said the conditions were just right.
“The water’s great,” Hatfield said. “The beach seems cleaner. Everything seems cleaner.”
Improvements to Burlington’s sewage and stormwater networks have reduced the amount of bacteria detected in the water off the city’s beaches. Human efforts might be starting to reduce polluted runoff to rivers that feed Lake Champlain, too. Two U.S. Geological Survey scientists recently found that phosphorus loads decreased slightly in 14 of 18 lake tributaries between 2000 and 2008.
However, high levels of E. coli found in the water this month prompted Burlington’s Parks and Recreation Department to temporarily close Blanchard Beach at Oakledge Park. The department reopened the beach Wednesday.
Hatfield said he usually reads up on the lake’s water quality before heading to the beach.
“We’ll check,” Hatfield said. “We pay attention to the (city of Burlington) website.”
Ida Jenkins and Katie Merritt of Burlington, lying on blankets a stone’s throw from a lifeguard tower at North Beach, said they intended to swim in the water despite the temporary closing of Blanchard Beach.
“Isn’t bacteria everywhere, anyway,” Jenkins, 26, said.
Merritt, 25, who lived in Duluth, Minn., said she would swim in Lake Champlain over Lake Superior any day.
“It’s cold,” Merritt said of the Great Lake.
The department tests the water off Blanchard, Leddy and North Beaches on Mondays and Thursdays. Blanchard Beach was temporarily closed once last summer, and was the only one of the three beaches monitored by the Parks and Recreation Department to close, said Maggie Leugers, the department’s superintendent of recreation.
The department had to close beaches much more often 15 years ago, Leugers said.
“We used to get high counts more frequently than we do now,” Leugers said. “So that’s a good thing.”
Leugers encouraged people to swim only at North Beach, because it is the only beach her department staffs with lifeguards.
Contact Matt Ryan at 651-4849 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To have Free Press headlines delivered free to your e-mail, sign up at www.burlingtonfreepress.com/newsletters.