MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) - The new and improved Mandeville beach on the North Shore lakefront features 13,000 cubic yards of white sand stretching an extra 100-feet into the brackish water of the lake, but as little ones are tempted to dip their toes into the water a report from the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation shows water nearby could be dangerous to swimmers.
"When they do water quality tests we consistently score fairly low especially right around here in this particular area," said Chris Cookmeyer, who grew up near the lake.
The weekly test from the station at the mouth of Bayou Castine, just a few feet away from the new beach, showed a fecal coliform level of 1300 average colonies per 100-milliliters of water, more than six times the recommended limit for safe swimming.
"The threshold considered for concern is 200, so that is elevated. So I would say the bayou is not good for swimming right now, but the Bayou empties into the lake and the water mixes so I don't think the water here is really a problem," said John Lopez, Ph.D., the director of Coastal Sustainability Program at the Foundation.
The bayou and beach are separated by a concrete jetty that stretches into the lake and Lopez said the rest of the lake's readings seem fine, but some parents aren't ready to let their children hit the water.
"On the surface, it's a nice idea for the community, but the problem is you have that breaker wall over here and there's not a whole lot of water movement so all the trash that makes its way through just kind of collects right here. Not to mention the fact that prior to them putting the sand down this is more or less a gator habitat as well, so the thought was nice but the execution is not gonna work out in my opinion," Cookmeyer said.
Still, Lopez said the reading shouldn't be an immediate cause for concern and parents who are worried should continue to check the foundations weekly readings.
"There is drainage just on the other side of the beach that comes from Mandeville and we don't monitor that drainage. It's small and I think it's probably fine, but you actually have potential sources of contaminants on both sides of this beach, so there is some risk," Lopez said.
Mandeville Mayor Donald Villere was not available for comment Sunday.
Lopez said the foundation may consider adding a monitoring site at the beach for accurate readings where people would swim.
You can follow the weekly water quality readings on the foundation's website here.