Treatment plant malfunction forces ocean swimming ban in N.J. town

(Justin Auciello for WHYY)

(Justin Auciello for WHYY)

UPDATE: All beaches were reopened Tuesday after test results revealed acceptable conditions, according to the Cape May County Department of Health. 

There’s no ocean swimming allowed along a significant stretch of the Wildwood Crest beach after a malfunction at the Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority’s Seven-Mile Treatment Center, officials say.

The ban went into effect Monday afternoon and will continue for at least 24 hours between Miami Avenue and Jefferson Avenue, according to Wildwood Crest Mayor Don Cabrera.

Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority discovered Monday morning that the last three phases of the wastewater treatment system at the facility failed to operate sometime between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, according to a municipal statement.

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Water flows from the wastewater treatment facility along an outfall line that extends one mile into the ocean at Jefferson Avenue in Wildwood Crest.

The closure within a one-mile radius of the outfall line is “out of an abundance of caution,” according to the Cape May County Department of Health, which has tested the water in the area and will have the results available by Tuesday morning.

Officials say they’ll reopen the ocean if the test results are within acceptable limits. The beach remains open.

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.

You can check water quality at your local beaches check water quality at your local beaches here.

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