Adirondack chairs and table overlooking Laurel Lake (copy)

The shores of Sandy Beach in Lee will be open for swimmers Friday, after a test that showed E. coli levels have decreased to safe levels. The Lenox beach, on the other side of Laurel Lake, will remain shut through Monday, at the least.

One town beach on Laurel Lake has reopened, but another remains closed until Tuesday at the earliest after an outbreak of E. coli bacterial contamination blamed on recent heavy rains.

The Lee Sandy Beach was greenlighted to reopen Friday, said Tri-Town Health Department Executive Director James Wilusz, citing results of a Thursday sampling by a state Department of Public Health unit.

Butr, DPH testing of the Lenox Town Beach, on the other side of the lake shared by the two municipalities, found continuing excessive levels of the bacteria, Wilusz told The Eagle on Friday.

As a result, that beach will remain closed,  pending another DPH test Monday. If that result comes in below the state threshold considered unsafe, the Lenox beach could reopen Tuesday.

The state sanitary code requires cities and towns to test public and semipublic beaches weekly for E. coli during the swimming season.

no swimming warning sign about e. coli posted on beach gate (copy)

The gates to the Lenox Town Beach will remain shut through at least Monday as E. coli levels remain elevated in the wake of recent heavy rains. Sandy Beach in Lee, on the other side of the lake, was cleared to reopen Friday.

State public health officials shut public and semipublic beaches when water tests find more than 235 colony-forming units, or CFUs, of E. coli per 100 milliliters of water.

The Thursday resampling at Lee Sandy Beach found a level of about 160 units, Wilusz said. Normal levels range from 20 to 30 CFUs, but 160 is considered safe, he added. The test at the Lenox Town Beach on Thursday came in at a highly excessive level.

E. coli bacteria is found in the environment, foods and intestines of people and animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although most strains are harmless, others can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, pneumonia as well as other illnesses.