Is the water in Lake Champlain safe for swimming? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Is the water in Lake Champlain safe for swimming?

Burlington, Vermont - June 8, 2011

Duncan Berube was one of the few people at Burlington's North Beach Wednesday.

"I was lounging in the sun after I got off work and I was going to read a book but I was asked to leave," he said. "I went for a quick dip as well."

The beach is closed after flooding left its mark with debris both in and out of the water.

"I had to wade through this crap at the edge of the shore but it was nice and refreshing," Berube said.

But not every Burlington beach is closed. Oakledge Park is in full swing.

"We just moved logs a little bit to make a beach," beach-goer Polly Beaudoin said.

E. coli testing is conducted by Vermont State Parks officials weekly and they've deemed the water of Lake Champlain safe to swim in.

"The more diluent there is the safer the water is to swim in," said Rob Peterson of Vermont State Parks.

The Vermont Health Department says water must below 77 E. coli bacteria per 100 milliliter sample in order to be safe for swimming. June 6 tests of Grand Isle Knight Point and Kingsland Bay Dock show levels well below that.

"We're not close," Peterson said. "We did receive one standard above that but that was before we opened for the summer."

But not everyone buys it.

Reporter Gina Bullard: Did you go in the water?

Maija Castro, beach-goer: Umm no.

Bullard: Why not?

Castro: Because it's pretty disgusting looking.

Vermont State Parks officials say this once a week testing is standard and they're not testing more because of the recent flooding. Warnings last week advised people to wear boots in floodwater and avoid touching it, but Peterson says by the time that flood water reaches the lake it's diluted.

"Right here it's not that bad," Beaudoin said. "The water's brown but it's not that bad."

"I'm going to wait till it clears up," Castro said. "With algae it just doesn't look too pleasant to swim in."

Vermont State Parks says that they expect the E. coli tests to stay at low levels and it may be because there is just so much water diluting it. The big issue is really debris like trees and trash. And we were even told Wednesday that numerous hypodermic needles have been found in the water, as well.

So, again, the water itself is safe, but officials say to watch out for debris.

Gina Bullard - WCAX News

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