Dangerous E. coli found at Long and Little Long Ponds.

Tests during three rainstorms this summer showed exceedingly high levels of fecal coliform bacteria. The E. coli was found at two places: in the stream between Little Long and Long Ponds and in the stormwater outflow pipe from Clark, Thatcher and Oar and Line Roads.

E. coli comes from fecal mater of warm blooded animals, causes sickness and is particularly dangerous for children and older people. A count of 235/100 ml of water is considered the high limit for recreational use. E. coli levels from the outfall pipe this summer were: 6,000 in June, 36,000 in August and 110,000 in September. This stormwater collects on the streets and flows into the catchment grates along Clark, Thatcher and Oar & Line Roads. It is then funneled to an outfall pipe that empties into the stream between Little Long and Long Ponds. The outfall pipe sampling location is within 30 feet of the Plymouth Estates beach. Until this problem is rectified, residents would be well advised not to use the PEA beach within 36 hours of a rainstorm.

Possible causes are overflowing septic systems, the dumping of animal waste into catchment basins or cross connections between sanitary waste and stormwater systems. It is unlikely that these numbers resulted from roadside dog feces floating in the stormwater because the levels were consistently high spread through the whole summer.

Six Ponds representatives met with the Health Department and the Public Health Board in September, 2002. Public Health Director O'Keefe advised that if the Plymouth Estates Beach were public he would have closed it immediately.

At the request of Six Ponds, the Public Works Dept has started cleaning out the catch basins. The next step is to have the town sample the catch basins during or after a heavy rain when they are full of flowing stormwater. In order to pinpoint the source sampling should be done at a number of locations on each street.

Prompted by this discovery, Six Ponds representatives are now working with the town to write a grant application (604b) for a stormwater study of this sub watershed. This will address both the fecal coliform results as well as nutrient contributions to the ponds that cause algal booms.

For further information e-mail wq@sixponds.org