Lake Mattawa in Orange closed due to E. coli

  • Lake Mattawa in Orange, pictured in 2020, has been closed due to unsafe levels of E. coli bacteria being detected, the Board of Health announced Wednesday. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/12/2022 10:52:55 AM
Modified: 8/12/2022 10:49:41 AM

ORANGE — Lake Mattawa has been closed to recreation due to unsafe levels of E. coli bacteria being detected, the Board of Health announced Wednesday.

According to Health Agent Matthew Fortier, a sample was taken Tuesday as part of the Housatonic Basin Sampling and Testing company’s weekly routine. Drought conditions combined with runoff from heavy rains, Fortier said, were “definitely a factor” in washing fecal matter into the lake.

“I talked to a local who was there when the testing company came by and that sample apparently came after the heavy rain in Orange yesterday,” Fortier explained on Wednesday afternoon.

A “serious risk of illness” is posed toward those who swim in bodies of water with such high levels of the bacteria, the Board of Health’s statement warns.

“E. coli is present in all stool, but if you have too much E. coli ingested, it could lead to gastrointestinal problems,” Fortier explained.

Fortier said Lake Mattawa has never been closed for bacterial reasons before. According to the Board of Health statement, notices are being posted at Mattawa Beach. The water will be tested again Thursday, and if its levels remain unacceptable, the lake will remain closed and be retested next week, Fortier said.

Similarly, the Green River Swimming Area in Greenfield has been closed since July 26 due to high levels of bacteria resulting from the drought, leading organizers of the Aug. 7 Greenfield Triathlon to replace the swim portion with a 0.31-mile run. Lab results confirmed the presence of the parasites cryptosporidium and giardia, as well as elevated levels of E. coli, according to public health officials.

“A lot of this is because of the lack of rain,” Greenfield Health Director Jennifer Hoffman said previously. “Things that normally would wash out become more concentrated. Even though we flush the swimming hole, with the warm weather and lack of rain, the chances of having bacteria or parasites grow are higher.”

Those who have additional questions about Lake Mattawa’s closing are encouraged to contact the Orange Board of Health at 978-544-1107. Those who are concerned about having gone swimming in the lake recently are encouraged to contact their primary care provider or call 911 in the case of an emergency.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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