Spring Lake back in full swing; Problems caused by runoff

Martin Geoffrey, 13, kayaks along Spring Lake.

BURRILLVILLE – The bacteria that prompted the Rhode Island Department of Health to close Spring Lake earlier this month was caused by runoff from the nearby streets following a particularly wet year, according to Beach Manager Judy Lopez.

RIDOH closed the facility on Tuesday, June 11 after water tests showed high levels of bacteria. RIDOH’s beach monitoring program reviews beach water quality at locations throughout the state regularly to ensure safe bathing throughout the summer season.

“It was only because of all the rain,” said Lopez of the test results. “It’s all the runoffs off the street.”

The Burrillville beach was not alone in being flagged by the agency. Fort Adams beach in Newport and Sandy Point Beach in Portsmouth were also among beaches to see temporary closures.

On Saturday, June 23, the water at Spring Lake was deemed safe by RIDOH, and the beach reopened.

Lopez noted that those concerned that nearby cesspools could have caused the bacteria can rest assured: town sewers run to all of the area homes. State law requires that water at the beach is tested every three weeks, but town officials conduct tests at the Burrillville beach every two as an added precaution.

“If they felt some was wrong they wouldn’t mind testing every single day,” Lopez said. “We want to make sure everyone’s safe.”

Lopez said the beach has been busy despite the slow start to the season. Rainy weather, however, continues to delay some improvements planned for the town-owned facility, including a new volleyball court.

“The rain has still been an issue,” Lopez said.

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