Why are we concerned about bacteria at freshwater swim areas? Over the past 20 years, Maine has experienced summers with more days with above-average temperatures compared to the previous 100 years. Freshwater temperatures track closely with air temperatures, and thus have also warmed considerably. People seek out local freshwater swimming areas to escape the heat, and more people crowding into freshwater swim locations can increase the presence of disease-causing pathogens in the water.
Warmer water temperatures allow those pathogens to grow and persist in the environment compared to colder water. Sheltered, slow-moving swimming areas may have stagnant water during high-use periods, as water flushing and dilution in lakes and slow-moving rivers is often insufficient at dispersing bacteria during periods of hot, calm weather, which is often when recreation pressure is the greatest.
Testing for the fecal indicator bacteria E. coli, which is harmful to human health but also an indicator of fecal waste and possible disease-causing pathogens from warm blooded organisms, including humans, is a means of protecting public health and adapting to Maine’s changing climate.
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Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program is not employed by or affiliated with the Land Conservation Assistance Network, and the Network does not certify or guarantee their services. The reader must perform their own due diligence and use their own judgment in the selection of any professional.
Contact Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program
PO BOX 91
YARMOUTH, Maine 04096 Phone: