WANTAGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Talk about bad timing.
On this hot summer day, many have found they cannot go swimming in one popular section of Jones Beach due to high levels of bacteria in the water.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, Zach’s Bay right next to the Jones Beach Theater was closed Wednesday, and the shallow calm waters were off limits to many people looking for a mid-week beach break.
“Right now, our beach is red-flagged and we’re preventing the public from actually entering the water, but we’re doing other things in the park to keep the people who are coming here active,” said Jones Beach Park Director Kevin Connelly. “We’re setting up some sprinklers.”
But there were few takers for the lawn sprinklers set up at the playground.
The beach is directly across from Jones Beach Tower. It is popular with parents of little children because the water is not deep and there are no waves.
“So it’s really good when you come with children to this beach as opposed to the larger beach, and it’s really a disappointment now that we can’t go in the water,” said Jeannine Skokos of Bayside, Queens.
Shaun Baruna and his family had driven an hour from Queens. When his young son began to wade into the water’s edge, lifeguards told them to get back.
“When they told us that it was because of bacteria, we took our son and ran him underneath the shower quickly,” said Baruna, of Astoria, Queens.
Like many Long Island beaches, Zach’s Bay was closed for swimming after big rainstorms that wash animal waste and storm runoff into the water. Some beachgoers grumbled that they were not warned when they entered the park.
“They didn’t tell us when we were paying to come in, say, ‘Oh by the way, you can’t go in the water today, don’t waste your money,’” said Susan Straitz of Hempstead.
Park officials said they did post warning signs at the entrance.
It has been an ongoing issue – eight years ago, Zach’s Bay was shamed as having the worst beach water quality in New York state.
The state has been trying to improve water quality at Jones Beach. Efforts include relocating a discharge pipe from the park’s sewage treatment plant to minimize runoff pollution.