Crystal Lake perfectly safe

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Children and ducks share the warm water in Crystal Lake.

HARRISON — Jump in, the water is fine!

That’s the message from Town Manager Tim Pellerin after social media began circulating a false story that the popular Crystal Lake was polluted with E. coli.

“Someone saw something, someone said something or heard something, and immediately we started getting calls,” Pellerin said late last week.

The concerned calls began after reports of a shutdown at Woods Pond in nearby Bridgton and somehow someone saw a report that a Crystal Lake was infected with high levels of E. coli.

It’s believed the reference was to Crystal Lake State Park in Barton, Vermont, which appears to be open for swimming, according to its website.

Woods Pond was temporarily shut down recently after officials received multiple reports of beach goers getting sick. Unacceptable levels of bacteria were found in the restroom sinks and were removed. It’s unclear what caused the illness.

Pellerin said water quality tests are conducted twice a year on both Crystal Lake and Long Lake and July numbers show both lakes to be far below the state accepted levels of bacteria.

Crystal Lake, a two-mile-long, 65-foot-deep lake, shows a 9 parts per million (PPM)  concentration of nutrient solutions and Long Lake, 29 PPM. The state’s acceptable level is 235 PPM. The water will be tested again in August.

Pellerin said some water bodies, particularly stagnant ponds, do experience water quality issues because of ducks and other water fowl feces, particularly in the warm weather and when water fowl start gathering at lakes and ponds to be fed. The problem is exasperated when people feed them because it tends to draw more ducks to the area and therefore more potential for excessive bacteria.

Problems caused by duck feces include what known as “duck itch,” and has been experienced at various ponds and lakes in the area in recent years.

Both of Harrison’s lakes are spring fed and constantly moving. Crystal Lake empties into Long Lake and Long Lake empties into Sebago Lake.

“It’s best if we don’t (feed the the ducks,)” he said.

The Department of Environmental Protection , which works with the Lakes Stewards of Maine (a voluntary lakes monitoring program), shows the water quality of Crystal Lake to be “above average.”

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net