OAKLAND — The beach at waterfront park has been reopened to swimmers and sunbathers after it had been closed for several days because of high levels of E. coli in the water.

Town Manager Gary Bowman said the swimming area was reopened Friday evening after a lake water sample taken Thursday came back showing an E. coli count of 173 per 100 milliliters of water. A count under 400 per 100 milliliters is an acceptable level for swimming, he said.

The beach closed Monday after a sample showed the E. coli — a coliform bacterium commonly found in the lower intestines in humans and other animals and that can be harmful if ingested — the level was too high for swimmers. No one reported becoming sick after swimming in the popular spot for residents on Messalonskee Lake, Bowman said.

Bowman theorized that the high temperature, at times reaching more than 90 degrees, earlier in the week had exacerbated the town’s ongoing problem with goose droppings plaguing the beach.

About 33 geese visit the park each day, Bowman said. The gaggle travels from the water to the grassy area, where the geese eat and subsequently defecate, in and around the beach area.

He said the situation had created a “perfect storm” for the “bacteria to explode.”


The large number of geese that have made the public beach and boat launch on Messalonskee Lake their home has proved to be a challenge to Oakland residents for years. In 2014, some Canada geese were euthanized after the town called the Maine office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Service because people had complained about the goose waste at the beach — which in turn sparked some outrage from the public, with some likening the act to “mass murder” of “innocent animals.”

Bowman said euthanizing the glut of geese is not an option that he is considering as a way to stem the population.

But if the goose waste problems persist, similar instances of water contamination could occur, he said.

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @EmilyHigg

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