Mandeville beach comes with new warning

Mandeville Beach water quality

MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) - The new beach on the North Shore now comes with a new warning for potential swimmers.

Officials installed signs near the beach that warn swimmers of myriad dangers in the water, from bacteria and protozoa to stingrays and alligators.

The warning comes after water quality readings at the nearby Bayou Castine showed a level of fecal coliform more than 10 times higher than the recommended level for swimming.

"You don't go in the water! You don't go in the water! Especially with kids, you don't go in the water, you go to Biloxi," said Rodney Salles, who was sunbathing with his wife.

"When I found out they were building a beach right here I was really stoked, but we come out and the water is really nasty so it's a really huge letdown," Mel Salles said.

On Tuesday, the beach also had an unwelcome visitor - piles of aquatic vegetation clogging the shoreline near the sand.

"It's still nice to be able to walk around on the sand, but it's really hard to keep, especially a small child almost 4, out of the water," said Stephanie Welch, who was visiting the beach with her son.

Mandeville Councilman David Ellis said the beach was installed without much discussion with the council or potential stakeholders.

"Other than the initial brief discussion in the budget session, which the public didn't have a whole lot of dealings with, the mayor did not have a detailed discussion with the council," Ellis said.

Mayor Donald Villere said he's meeting with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation to discuss water monitoring at the beach, but in the meantime, the foundation does not believe the high levels of contaminants are as high in the water near the beach, though they said it's hard to be certain without a test.

Now Ellis is concerned the beach could create even more problems and cost the city more money as it tries to maintain a beach on the edge of a Louisiana marsh.

"The additional problem is the ongoing maintenance. Are we going to keep this if it has a big storm, or is it going to wipe everything away? Is it going to be gone? Are we going to have to allocate a certain dollar amount to keep this in some kind of sub-par level? Do we need to maintain it weekly, monthly?" Ellis questioned.

The foundation said the aquatic vegetation is part of a healthy lake ecosystem and it hopes to begin monitoring the water near the beach.

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