Haverhill's Plug Pond closes due to high levels of E. coli

MIKE SPRINGER/Staff file photo Eight-year-old Luis Morales and his sister Jaylianna, 6, both of Haverhill, have fun splashing around in the water at Haverhill's Plug Pond in June. There will be no such fun at the pond on July Fourth as high levels of bacteria have forced a temporary closing of the city's only public swimming area. 

HAVERHILL — As temperatures hover around 90 degrees, the city's only public beach has been temporarily closed to swimmers.

Plug Pond closed Wednesday due to elevated levels of E. coli in the water, said Shawn Regan, spokesman for Mayor James Fiorentini.

Regan said a weekly test of the water done Tuesday night came back Wednesday with results that forced the beach to be closed immediately.

"Usually this happens after big rainstorms," he said, adding that this is not the first time this has happened. "We had a lot of rain over the weekend (on Sunday and Monday) which washed all the bacteria from the roads into the pond."

With the holiday weekend approaching, Regan said the city aims to reopen the public swimming area as soon as possible. Another test will be conducted Friday with the hope of reopening the beach Saturday, he said.

"We are hoping it's just a three-day shutdown," Regan said. "Hopefully the weather is not too hot."

The beach, open to Haverhill residents only, is used by many children and parents who walk to the pond and use it to escape the heat without having to leave the city. It is in operation seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. until the last week of August. Lifeguards are on duty during operating hours.

Plug Pond — the nickname for Lake Saltonstall, which is a spring-fed body of water — is not just for swimmers. Canoes and kayaks are allowed on the water, too.

The pond has long been considered a haven for residents, especially when the heat seems unbearable on hot summer days.