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Monitoring High Bacteria in Lake Montauk

Fri, 06/21/2024 - 12:29
C.C.O.M. regularly tests water in East Hampton, Montauk, Amagansett, and Springs.
Laura Tooman

The latest water quality report from the Concerned Citizens of Montauk flags the persistent and harmful presence of the enterococcus bacteria in the Montauk area. While this week's round of testing revealed low bacteria levels in East Hampton and Amagansett, Montauk waters remained problematic.

Although the overall bacteria levels in the South Fork region are slightly down from the June 10 report, C.C.O.M. said on Monday that four water bodies — Lake Montauk's East Creek and Benson Drive culvert, Surfside Place's outfall pipe, and Fort Pond — pose a human health risk.

Enterococcus levels that register at 104 or more qualify as the threshold for unsafe levels of enterococcus bacteria. Extremely high tides, heavy rain, and warm water temperatures are usually the cause of these high bacteria levels.

This past week, the four water bodies that indicated high levels of bacteria were all located in the Montauk area. Three intensely monitored sites, East Creek, registering at 677, Surfside Place's outfall pipe, registering at 158, and Fort Pond, registering at 432, all showed unsafe levels of enterococcus bacteria. The most notable figure, however, was Lake Montauk's Benson Drive culvert, which registered at 2,682.

All but one of the East Hampton and Amagansett test sites, and many of the Montauk test sites, recorded low levels of bacteria, between 0 and 35. A total of four water bodies, three in Montauk, and one in Amagansett, recorded medium bacteria levels, between 36 and 104. While Lake Montauk's West Creek, Fort Pond's Industrial Road site, Tuthill Pond, and Fresh Pond, at medium levels do not pose as intense health risks, spending time in these waters should be avoided when possible, C.C.O.M. said.

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