HAVERHILL -- The beach at Plug Pond reopened late Saturday morning, just in time to give Haverhill residents relief from temperatures climbing in to the upper 80s.
Mayor James Fiorentini's office confirmed that tests showed the pond was safe to reopen.
The pond, Haverhill's only public swimming area, has been closed since Wednesday. Results from a water test Tuesday night showed elevated levels of E. coli bacteria, said Shawn Regan, a spokesman for 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,” Regan said Wednesday. “We had a lot of rain over the weekend (on Sunday and Monday) which washed all the bacteria from the roads into the pond.”
Regan said the city was eager to reopen the public swimming area as soon as safely possible. Another test was conducted Friday with the hope of reopening the beach Saturday, he said.
“We are hoping it’s just a three-day shutdown,” he said Wednesday.
Unfortunately for those with no other way to cool off, temperatures topped 90 degrees both Thursday and Friday, and they were expected in the high 80s on Saturday.
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. 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 on hot summer days.
The city tests the water quality at Plug Pond at least once per week.