Mexico (WSYR-TV) -- A new report of water quality at beaches nationwide finds what's in the water could be the reason you're being kept out. The National Resource Defense Council
is calling many beaches across the nation unsafe because of dangerous levels of e-coli. On that list – Mexico Point Park Beach in Oswego County where county water quality tests found high levels of bacteria quite often last summer.
Seaweed gathers on the shore of Mexico Point Park Beach - blanketing rocks and coating the water.
“Last year we had to scrape it off the beach. It’s like a gagging smell,” said Lifegaurd Dan Jardin.
Just as the waves of Lake Ontario direct the weeds to this beach, they also bring e-coli, bacteria that indicate animal or human waste.
The Oswego County Health Department tests Mexico Point Park Beach's e-coli levels twice a week.
“It weirded me out knowing the bacteria levels,” Jardin said.
Mexico beach had to close 12 times in 2011 because of the water quality. Park managers say they’re trying to keep everyone healthy and safe by shutting the shores down.
“For public safety we definitely attack it veraciously because we don’t want anybody getting hurt or anybody getting sick for being at our park,” said Mexico Point Park Caretaker, Jamey Bond.
Water quality specialists at the National Resource Defense Council say the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bacteria level standards aren't protective enough. Larry Levine, a senior attorney in NRDC's Water Program, says the EPA is proposing to leave standards in place that assume 1 in 28 people who visit the beach a day will come home with a stomach sickness.
“It basically means if your child's third grade class goes to the beach, one of them is going to come home sick in a given day. It shouldn't be the case that a day at the beach means the next day sick in bed,” Levine said.
This year, Mexico Point Park closed a section of the beach down for the summer because of seaweed levels.
"Swimming through it is more like blinding. It feels like silk, but it's not soft. It's spongy gross. It just sticks to your skin," describes Lifeguard Dan Jardin.
Park managers just hope the seaweed will be the worst thing to end up on their shores this season.
So far this year, water quality tests at Mexico Point Park Beach have not shown high bacteria levels, but the moment they do, the beach will close until two consecutive tests find the water to be free of e-coli.