LAKE GEORGE - The village's Shepard Park Beach will remain closed for the remainder of the season, Mayor Blais announced this week. The length of time to obtain test results and the lack of adequate staffing prohibited the Village from reopening the beach prior to its traditional Labor Day closing, he said.
The beach has been closed since July 5 when a pipe broke in the Village's main pump station resulted in sewage flooding the beach and entering Lake George, which caused bacteria to proliferate. Testing since that date by the state Department of Health and Darrin Freshwater Institute has yielded a variety of differing results, but not three consecutive clean tests that would allow the beach to be reopened.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health Department is conducting follow-up DNA tests that can pinpoint the pollution source - identifying it as either human or waterfowl waste. As of Tuesday, the results of that two-week test series had not been received.
Village crews have continued to investigate all the lines adjacent to the water, permanently repair and replace the broken pipe, upgrade portions of the pump station and install additional alarms, Blais said.
Early after the spill, the beach sand was excavated and replaced. Later on, access was improved for those with disabilities, and new water fountains installed.
Also, the Village Board also authorized an engineering study of their entire sewer system to establish priorities for improvements to the system and pump station. Through the efforts of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, federal funding for the improvements was assigned a higher priority..
In other improvements, the Village completed the construction last week of a $400,000 building at the sewer treatment plant that covers its two trickling filters to increase efficiency, eliminate odors and allow for year-round use.
Darrin Freshwater Institute has been hired by the Village to take purity tests of the beachfront, while awaiting Department of Health results. Those tests, including the last one taken Aug. 12, were well below previous levels and as good as any samples taken around the lake, Blais said.
"It's been a frustrating season for our staff, residents and visitors alike," Mayor Blais said, "We're determined we'll be opening an improved beach in 2010 that will once again be enjoyed by all users."