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3 Maine beaches under contamination advisories for fecal bacteria

Wells Beach at low tide after a nor'easter in October 2021.
Susan Sharon
/
Maine Public file
Wells Beach at low tide after a nor'easter in Oct. 2021. Wells Harbor was one of the locations in Maine under contamination advisory on Thursday.

Many beachgoers who want to take a dip to escape the summer heat are being confronted by high bacteria levels in water at popular beaches across New England.

In Maine, three coastal beaches had contamination advisories for fecal bacteria as of 4:30 p.m. Thursday, down from seven earlier in the day. Meagan Sims, coordinator of Maine Healthy Beaches for the Department of Environmental Protection, says that contamination is driven, in part, by heavy rainfall this summer.

"It's unprecedented as far as this amount of rain that we're seeing to water quality here in Maine and across New England," she says. "What happens is that rainfall falls on the land, and it transports any sort of bacteria that could be from pet waste left on a lawn. It could be something from a septic system having issues. It could be from wildlife and water fowl."

Massachusetts has posted water quality notices at more than 70 beaches. There's no swimming at 10 state parks in Vermont. And nearly a dozen beaches and bodies of water in New Hampshire are also under some sort of advisory.

Most of the closures were because of high levels of E. coli associated with waste. Others were for algae blooms, some of which can be toxic.

To check on the status of Maine beaches, click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.