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Beach Watch: Week 1 – July 1, 2019 Results

July 3rd, 2019 | Posted by Margaret Hummel

Save The River’s Beach Watch program aims to test the water quality of six local beaches and popular swimming destinations to ensure a safe swimming environment. We do this by testing the levels of E. coli bacteria, which in high amounts can cause illness. E. coli is a common indicator used for testing of fecal contamination in waterways and is the recommended indicator in fresh waterways. Results are expressed in the number of bacteria colonies found in a 100 milliliter (ml) sample of swimming water. The New York State Health Department has set a swimming water quality limit of 235 colonies of E. coli bacteria per 100 milliliters of water for a one time sample and 126 colonies for an average result over five weeks.

This year marks the 20th season of our Beach Watch program. We test six swimming locations with the help of volunteers every Monday for nine weeks from July 1 through August 26. Our testing sites are Frink Park in downtown Clayton, Scenic View Park in Alexandria Bay, Lake of the Isles on Wellesley Island, Wilson’s Beach in Cape Vincent, Round Island in Clayton, and Potters Beach on Grindstone Island. Weekly monitoring results are posted on our website, at the Save The River office, on our social media, and on the Swim Guide mobile app and website. This year the Beach Watch program is managed by summer intern, Molly Russell.

Our Week 1 results from July 1, 2019 showed the three locations we were able to obtain samples from all passed. Frink Park and Lake of the Isles both had levels of only 1 per 100ml and Scenic View Park had levels of 13.4 per 100 ml, all of which are well below the 235 per 100 ml maximum. A sample from Wilson’s Beach was unable to be taken this week as the access road is closed due to high water levels.

If a New York State swimming beach fails a water quality sample, the beach will close until it passes a resample test. However, Save The River monitors the Beach Watch program on a volunteer basis and has no authority to close the swimming areas we sample. The results are used to highlight areas of concern and inform landowners and stakeholders of potential health risks. When there is a situation of high bacteria, Save The River submits those results to local and state authorities for their use and action.

We still need a volunteer for Potters Beach to help us obtain samples so we can ensure safe swimming conditions in all six of our locations! Volunteers collect samples Monday mornings and bring the sample to Save The River by 9:15 am. If you would like to learn more about this volunteer opportunity or if you are willing and able to volunteer, you can email Patricia Shulenburg at or call the storefront at (315) 686-2010.

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