WAREHAM — Residents and visitors in Wareham may have been disappointed over the weekend, as the town's Little Harbor Beach remained closed after a shutdown last week due to high levels of fecal bacteria.

But Wareham Public Health Director Patrick MacDonald said officials hope to reopen the beach Wednesday, depending on the results of water sample tests this week.

Some posted about the closure online, asking why Little Harbor Beach in particular was affected, while other beaches further upriver and less open to the elements were not.

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According to MacDonald, the high levels of fecal coliform bacteria — found in bird and mammal poop — last week were likely caused by animals defecating on the beach rather than a larger environmental issue with the bay or river water.

Birds feasting on insects and leftover garbage, and visitors not cleaning up after their dogs after an intensive beach weekend, are often the culprits, he said — "especially if it's been a warm and sunny week."

 

The state conducts weekly water tests for the dangerous fecal bacteria.

After initial tests on Tuesday and Wednesday found levels higher than state safety standards, the beach was closed for swimming and water samples were taken daily.

MacDonald said that although the most recent water sample showed lower levels of bacteria, a high five-day average count kept the beach closed over the weekend.

Lab workers were "nice enough to come in and read sample [results] on Saturday morning," he noted.
After new samples are analyzed, MacDonald said, depending on the results, "hopefully we'll have the beach open Wednesday."

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