Environmental nonprofits alarmed about 'bacteria-laden' King's Beach

Colin A. Young

Though two environmental non-profits have released differing reports on water quality at Boston-area beaches in recent weeks, both agree that sewage discharges continue to be significant contributors to unsafe swimming conditions.

Environment Massachusetts on July 13 released its annual report highlighting local beaches where water samples tested for concentrations of fecal bacteria greater than the Environmental Protection Agency’s highest warning level. That threshold is associated with an illness rate of 32 per 1,000 swimmers.

A surfer on Kings Beach in September of 2020.

Of the 556 locations examined (some beaches have more than one sampling location) in Massachusetts, the report concluded that 264 tested beaches were potentially unsafe for swimming on at least one day in 2020 and that 29 beaches were potentially unsafe on at least 25 percent of the days they were tested.

Save The Harbor/Save The Bay, which released its own report card of water quality at Boston-area beaches on July 4, took exception to Environment Massachusetts’ methods and said that one day of water samples exceeding the EPA limit is not a good barometer of safety for swimming.

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