Government Officials Say They Can't Pinpoint Cause of Olcott Beach Closures

6:19 PM, Jun 12, 2013   |    comments
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NEWFANE, N. Y. - Olcott Beach closed on Wednesday. Again.

It's the second time in a week and the 13th time since 2011 that swimmers could not jump into Lake Ontario due to dangerous levels of E. coli. In fact, the Natural Resources Defense Council rated the beach at Krull Park as the second-most bacteria-infested waterway in the entire state of New York.

But nobody's exactly sure where the bacteria is coming from.

Not even Tim Horanburg, the supervisor of Newfane.

"It's frustrating because we can't find an answer for it," Horanburg said. "This hurts our reputation. We know that."

Horanburg and Ronald Gwozdek, the principal engineer for the Niagara County Health Department, both have similar theories. For one, animal waste could cause the bacteria. Gwozdek said his department conducts DNA testing of the water, which has revealed waste from various animals, including geese.

Gwozdek said 18-Mile Creek, located just miles from Olcott Beach, is a "contributing factor." And there's the issue of raw sewage, too, a problem our Investigative Post partners tackled earlier this week in Erie County.

"It certainly could be part of it," Horanburg said.

No matter the cause, Horanburg said he's worried he may not ever find a solution.

After all, this is hardly a new issue.

"This may have been going on for years and years and years. I grew up swimming in this lake. Most kids did," Horanburg said. "But now that the state has new health codes, we have to follow them. And they're very strict."


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