Bridgton reopens Woods Pond Beach after water passes test

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Christy Dow tans Saturday on Woods Pond Beach in Bridgton, which was closed to swimmers after some became ill. The beach reopened Tuesday after testing found the lake water to be safe. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald)

Bridgton officials reopened a swimming area Tuesday after tests showed the water is safe, according to the town.

Woods Pond Beach was closed Friday afternoon after multiple people reported becoming ill with gastrointestinal symptoms after swimming there earlier in the week. Water from the swim area and from sinks in a public bathroom were tested Monday, according to town officials.

The test showed the water from the swim area had E. coli levels within acceptable limits and the beach was immediately reopened for swimming. The town said the test found 3 E. coli per 100 milliliters of water, well below the acceptable limit of 235.

Town officials said water from the bathroom sinks failed the test and the water supply to the sinks was shut off immediately. Town officials did not disclose the results of the test on the sink water and it was not immediately clear what caused the contamination.

Hand sanitizer has been placed in the bathrooms, which already had been posted with signs indicating the water is not for drinking.

It is still not clear what caused the beachgoers to get sick. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating the illnesses.

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Erica Ford of Sebago said three people in her family of four got sick after swimming at the beach on July 4 and 5. But none of them had used or even gone near the bathroom, she said. Ford has questions about why the bathroom sinks failed, the timing of the test and the source of the bathroom water, but she said the town isn’t responding to online messages.

“It’s hard watching your 3-year-old throw up all night long and not get any answers,” said Ford, 31.

Ford reported the illnesses Tuesday to the Maine CDC, and a staff person returned her call to ask questions. The woman asked Ford about their visits to the beach – if they ate there, if their heads went under the water while swimming, if they used the playground.

“I think we will probably never go back to that beach,” Ford said.

In a Facebook post, the Maine CDC asked anyone who experienced nausea, diarrhea or vomiting after swimming at Woods Pond Beach last week to call the office during business hours at 1-800-821-5821.

“If you continue to have symptoms, please visit your primary care provider,” the post reads. “To keep yourself healthy, good hygiene is essential. Wash your hands frequently, stay home (and out of the water) if you’re sick, and store food appropriately in hot weather.”

The beach is on the south end of the 462-acre Woods Pond off Route 117.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

ggraham@pressherald.com

Twitter: grahamgillian

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

mdoyle@pressherald.com

Twitter: megan_e_doyle

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