By Meg Olson
“So far, so good,” said Tom Kunesh with the county health department of the first water quality sampling results from Maple Beach.
The department collected samples on May 27 at three locations, and tested for enterococcus, a bacterium used as an indicator species for fecal matter from warm-blooded animals. Scores are averaged from the three sites so a single event, like a seagull dropping, can’t skew the test batch. If the average of the three exceeds a score of 103 MPN (most probable number, a lab term used in reporting the amount of bacterial colonies that are found growing in the sample), the beach can be posted to let people know the water may be unsafe for swimming.
All three samples from Maple Beach scored 10 and under.
“The bottom line is the initial results are very good,” Kunesh said. “Hopefully this will continue.” Kunesh added results tend to be worse after rain and the sample day in question had no precipitation.
A combination of federal funding, county staff and volunteer efforts started the water-quality monitoring program at Maple Beach this year to “establish a baseline,” Kunesh said. Funds from the BEACH program, which regularly monitors 60 beaches in the state, are being used to test monthly over the summer and Kunesh is working with other possible funding sources and volunteers to try and increase frequency of testing.