Orchard Beach water quality OK’d

Ellio Ulloa has fun with his daughter Heather in the water at Orchard Beach in 2008.

Holy E.coli!

City officials are keeping a wary eye on Orchard Beach after it had to issue an advisory to avoid swimming there on Tuesday, July 31 because of high bacteria levels.

Two nearby beaches had to be closed to swimmers after water samples showed high bacteria levels.

The city Department of Health stopped swimming at the Danish American Beach Club in Throggs Neck and the West Fordham Street Association beach club on City Island. Both of those beaches remained closed to swimmers as of Tuesday deadline.

“Orchard, West Fordham, and Danish American beach had bacteriological readings above the daily maximum set by the Federal EPA and were placed under a pollution advisory,” said DOH spokeswoman Alexandra Waldhorn.

“An advisory is issued to notify the public that the Health Department recommends against swimming and bathing when an preliminary water assessment indicates that bacteria levels or other conditions may contribute to a possible illness.”

She said DOH does not anticipate Orchard Beach will have to be closed to swimmers again this summer.

The last time it happened was for four days last August – before, during, and after Hurricane Irene, she said.

Orchard Beach was also issued a wet-weather advisory after record breaking rain on August 14, 2011, she added.

Water samples have been tested at the borough’s other seven private beach clubs on Eastchester Bay and the bacterial readings were within federal guidelines, said Waldhorn.

The cause of the elevated bacterial readings may have many sources, but the DOH has some ideas.

“Several isolated, brief, intense rainstorms occurred throughout the area and may be the cause of the localized elevated samples collected at the Fordham and Danish American beach,” said Waldhorn.

The advisory will be lifted when the bacterial readings fall below federal guidelines, she said.

At the Danish American Beach Club, Jim Doyle said that this is not the first time that the beach at the club – which has other swimming facilities – had higher levels of pollution that made it not safe to swim in the water on Eastchester Bay.

“A couple of years ago we had a whole summer when we had a lot of problems with the water quality,” said Doyle.

“It was traced to someone nearby that was connected to a storm sewer that they weren’t supposed to have been connected to.”

The Danish American is awaiting the results of further test this week to see if it can reopen the beach, said Doyle.

For more information on the water quality of beaches visit: www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/beach/beach-bx.shtml.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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