Avoid that dirty water: Mass. releases a new tool for viewing beach closures

A lifeguard sits in a lifeguard chair at Good Harbor Beach with a sign mounted on the side indicating the creek it is safe for swimming. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A lifeguard sits in a lifeguard chair at Good Harbor Beach with a sign mounted on the side indicating the creek it is safe for swimming. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

TGIF! Let’s start with some housekeeping: I’m going on vacation, and so is WBUR Today. We’re pausing the newsletter next week.

In the meantime, bookmark for any breaking news — like if a certain governor signs a certain overdue budget. You can also sign up for our Saturday morning newsletter (if you haven’t already) to get the week’s must-read stories. Or take a break from the news and read a book instead. Either way, we’ll be back in your inboxes Monday, Aug. 14.

In case you, too, have a trip to the beach planned in the near future, Massachusetts health officials have rolled out a tool to help locals stay up to date on all the recent beach closures. This summer’s heavy rain has led to dozens of daily beach closings due to bacteria levels. And the new “Interactive Beach Water Quality Dashboard,” released by the state’s Department of Public Health, lists which beaches are closed and offers more detailed information than the old online closings list. (Not to mention, it has a cool color-coded map).

What exactly is so great about the new dashboard?

  • It’s updated twice a day (at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.)
  • You can search for beaches by town and see if they’re open or closed. The dashboard also displays a history of test results. For example, Malibu Beach in Dorchester remains closed after tests showed bacteria levels spiked way above safe levels earlier this week.
  • For a big-picture view, the dashboard includes a map showing all of the state’s beaches with clickable green, yellow and red dots indicating their status.

What’s the current status? The dashboard as of this morning shows 51 beaches are closed. But as WBUR’s Ally Jarmanning reports, water quality clears relatively quickly. So it could be worth keeping an eye on the dashboard when 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. come around.

In related news: It may not be ideal beach weather, but all six beaches on the Cape Cod National Seashore are free today. The National Park Service is waiving entrance pass requirements to celebrate the third anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act.

Boston’s historic Old South Meeting House — where the Boston Tea Party was planned — is getting nearly half a million dollars for renovations ahead of its 250th anniversary this December. Sen. Ed Markey’s office says the federal funding will repair water damage that has begun to corrode the building’s frame and foundation, plus weatherize the landmark against future storms.

A longtime Hull police sergeant has been pulled off the job after being arrested for allegedly assaulting an older neighbor in Pembroke. According to court records, 46-year-old Scott Saunders pushed his neighbor Harry Horsley to the ground and punched him, after Horsley allegedly drove close to him as he was walking along the road.

  • A witness captured video of the end of the physical confrontation — obtained here by Boston 25 News. It shows Saunders, who was off-duty, pushing and sitting on top of a bloodied Horsley.

Reminder for Red Line riders: The entire Braintree branch is shut down for the weekend beginning tonight at 8:45 p.m., so that crews can work on the tracks to address slow zones. (Commuter rail service along the Red Line will also be suspended.)

  • There’ll be free shuttle service for all stops south of JFK/UMass, as well as an express shuttle bus from South Station to Braintree.

Care for a free ride? BlueBikes is offering free “Adventure Passes” every Monday in August in recognition of National Wellness Month.

  • What’s an Adventure Pass? The offer means you’ll be able to take out a BlueBike for free for up to two hours — as many times as you want — on each of the four Mondays this month.

P.S. — Boston Mayor Michelle Wu signed an executive order this week banning the use of what in new construction and major renovations of city buildings? If you think you know the answer, take our Boston News Quiz to find out.


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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