KENNEBUNK, Maine – Recent state testing has found that six York County beaches are contaminated with high levels of bacteria.
Tests taken Monday show Mother’s Beach and Gooch’s beach in Kennebunk, along with Main Beach in Kennebunkport, are below the safety threshold for the E. coli bacteria in Kennebunk.
Public health officials say beaches in Maine and across the U.S. pose an ongoing risk of E. coli contamination.
Wells Harbor is another one of six York County beaches where tests found elevated levels of fecal matter on Friday, an indication that E. coli may also be in the water.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection will be continuing testing, and more results will be available on Wednesday.
“Now I don’t really want my kids swimming in the water,” Lyman parent Melanie Fuller said. “Like especially my little one. He’ll probably drink the water unintentionally.”
Fuller and other parents had no idea elevated levels of bacterial contamination were found at the beach, because lifeguards had been flying green flags, which indicate the water is safe for swimming.
“Ninety percent of the population is on Facebook,” Fuller said. “So even posting something on there, on the local beach sites or something.”
“There is no contamination along the beaches,” Wells Fire Chief Mark Dupuis said. “So that’s why the flags are green.”
Dupuis is in charge of the lifeguards.
He says the flags were green because contamination is usually found just in the inner harbor, not on Wells Beach, and he said the contamination never lasts more than a day.
“That’s our job to notify the public,” Dupuis said. “Let them make their own decisions. We don’t have a problem with them using the water. We just want to warn them.”
“When people come here to a beautiful beach like this in Maine with their families, they expect the water to be safe,” Environment Maine Research and Policy Center Clean Water Director John Rumpler said. “And unfortunately, the data that we looked at showed that all too often, that’s not the case.”
Environment Maine Research and Policy Center ran more than 100,000 tests for bacteria contamination on 3,000 beaches nationwide.
Rumpler says at Goose Rocks Beach, half of their testing days found elevated levels of fecal matter.
To check the water quality of beaches in Maine, click here.