Seaside Heights in Ocean County, New Jersey, was able to reopen Thursday afternoon after it was forced to close off access to the ocean along its beaches after two consecutive bacteria tests showed levels that exceeded state standards.
The beach town's mayor said it was the first in the last 20 years that he could remember having to close off total access to the water.
"Perplexingly, the ocean waters have been great the past few years right up to now, so this is a very unusual event that we expect to pass quickly.” Mayor Anthony Vaz said in a statement posted to the town website.
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Six of New Jersey's other 215 daily-tested beaches along the Atlantic Ocean and the barrier bays were also closed Thursday. Two additional beaches are closed temporarily for sand replenishment projects, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection's Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program website.
"The New Jersey State Sanitary Code requires that the concentration of bacteria not exceed 104 colonies of Enterococci bacteria per 100 milliliters of sample," according to the state DEP website. "Enterococci is a type of bacteria that is an indicator of possible contamination within bathing waters."
At the two Seaside Heights beaches, Sheridan and Lincoln Avenue, tests conducted on Aug. 13 and 14 showed bacteria levels above 110 colonies per 100 milliliters.
"The health people are further analyzing the results and will keep us informed," Vaz said.
Of the eight beaches forced to close, seven were in Monmouth or Ocean counties. The eighth is in Brigantine, Atlantic County. The 26th Street beach on the bay side of Brigantine was closed.