EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

July 4, 2013

Bacteria forces Methuen to close Forest Lake

METHUEN — City officials hope to reopen Forest Lake today after the local swimming and recreation spot was closed yesterday morning due to high bacteria levels.

New test results for E. coli bacteria levels are expected late this morning. The test results will dictate whether the city can reopen the lake for what promises to be a busy Fourth of July weekend.

“I’m expecting a call around noontime (today) to inform me whether the bacteria levels have receded,” said Methuen Community Development Director William Buckley. “We’re hopeful, but it will all be determined with the new counts.”

Buckley said heavy rain and humid temperatures caused the spike in E. coli levels, which were detected in water samples taken Tuesday. City officials closed the lake Wednesday morning as soon as the test results were available.

“We had to take appropriate action,” said Buckley. “It’s kind of a perfect storm for bacteria.”

Forest Lake is tested weekly for bacteria. Water with E. coli levels greater than 235 colonies per 100 milliliters is considered unsafe to swim in. Samples taken from the lake Tuesday came in at ratios between 225 and 285.

Buckley said today’s decision to reopen or keep the lake closed will be posted on the city’s social media accounts and on its website, cityofmethuen.net.

Forest Lake is popular this time of year for swimming, boating and fishing. The lake opened to the public June 22. Beach access is located off Hampshire Road.

“This is a very busy time over there,” said Buckley. “It’s a full beach on the Fourth of July.”

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