As Some Swimming Bans Lift, 3 Boston-Area Beaches Stay Closed

Some beaches along the Massachusetts coastline are reopening after high bacteria levels forced state and local beaches to close 33 beaches on Friday.

New test results show it's safe to swim in previously closed beaches in towns including Hingham, Beverly, Duxbury and Plymouth. Two state-operated beaches in Boston and one in Quincy are among beaches that remain closed closed.

Wendy Fox, of the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), said Tenean, Carson and Wollaston beaches remained closed on Saturday morning because they're still posting high test results for the Enterococcus bacteria.

"It can give you gastrointestinal distress, some people, their skin feels itchy and scratchy," Fox said. "You don't want to swim in it."

Usually, Fox said, this kind of bacteria builds up when there's a good deal of rain washing material from land to water. "Rain washes all sorts of stuff from yards and sidewalks onto the beaches and through the storm drains into the water," Fox said.

So at first glance, it seems strange that so many beaches could close when recent weather has been relatively dry.

But Fox said the right combination of dry weather and rain can produce Enterococcus, too.

"Bacteria has collected in the storm drains during the dry weather, and suddenly a little rain one night last week washed it all out at once and has created this problem," Fox explained.

Fox said any change in the status of the three closed beaches will be posted on the DCR's beach hotline (617-626-4972).

Click here for Massachusetts Department of Health’s website with beach closures and bacteria tests.

This program aired on August 14, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.