Raw sewage exposure forces closure of Belmar river beach

The L Street river beach in Belmar, New Jersey. (Google image)

The L Street river beach in Belmar, New Jersey. (Google image)

Officials say sewage overflow contaminated a New Jersey beach’s water with unsafe levels of bacteria, forcing its closure.

According to test results released Wednesday, bacteria counts at the L Street river beach in Monmouth County’s Belmar came in over twice the safe swimming standard.

The standard for the acceptable level of enterococcus, a bacteria found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals that can cause urinary tract infections, bacteremia, bacterial endocarditis, diverticulitis, and meningitis, is 104 colonies per 100 ml of water.

The Belmar beach registered 260 colonies per 100 ml of water.

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According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s njbeaches.org, sewage overflow discharged into a storm drain.

If follow-up testing performed on Wednesday fails to clear the beach, it will be closed until the bacteria level subsides. Test results will be released Thursday afternoon.

The state tests water quality at 35 bay and 180 ocean locations weekly and issues advisories following unacceptable bacteria levels. Beaches are closed if two consecutive samples collected at a bathing beach exceed the state standard and remain in effect until subsequent sampling indicates bacteria levels are again below the standard.

Some waterways are typically susceptible to higher bacteria levels after rainfall and associated storm runoff.

No other beaches were under a closure or advisory.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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