Many cooled off in Lake Pontchartrain; monitors say the lake's health is good

Many cooled off in Lake Pontchartrain; lake monitors say the lake's health is good

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - On a day like this one, many people had no doubt how they would spend the Fourth of July holiday. It would involve Lake Pontchartrain.

"Just trying to relax and enjoy the beautiful weather," said Ervin Dapremont.

Dozens of children swam near the Seabrook Bridge. Adults like Brianna Breaux put the water to use in other ways.

"My husband and my kids, we're just out here I'm learning how to ride the jet ski, barbecuing and everything, just enjoying the weather," she said while sitting on the jet ski next to a pier.

She maneuvered in the water as if she indeed had the hang of it.

"To say it's so hot, it really is cooling you off and everything," continued Breaux.

On shore and nearby, Dapremont readied burgers on a grill for his own family.

"My grandkids are getting in, getting their feet wet, but not really going in the water, per se," said Dapremont.

Signs warn swimmers at the location not to go too far out into the lake. The depth and personality of the lake farther from shore aside, John Lopez, director of the Coastal Sustainability Program for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, said the lake's waters are healthy.

"In terms of the health, yes, it was taken off of you know, what's called the Impaired Water Bodies list in 2006, but of course we still monitor the lake. The latest bacteria counts just from a few days ago are all below the threshold for any concern, so the bacteria counts are very low right now as is pretty normal now for the lake," Lopez stated.

Still, responsibility is required.

"Probably the two greatest threats is all the heat, so you want to stay hydrated and stay cool, but the other is just be safe on the water, you know kids needs to be wearing life jackets if they're anywhere near the water, if they're on a boat, so forth," said Lopez.

Some who brought their families to the area near the bridge which has seen drownings in the past think lifeguards are needed.

"Most definitely, most definitely, especially around the time when it's a holiday and you have people out here, some kind of supervision would be great," said Dapremont.

Lopez stressed that the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation has no involvement with that part of the lakefront where numbers of people enter the lake's waters to swim.  FOX 8 reached out to the Orleans Levee District Police for comment but no one was available.

Farther down Lakeshore Drive, the Basin Foundation continues to work to give the public access to the area where Pontchartrain Beach once stood.

"The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation is leasing the property but we're working with various entities to bring it back but it's going to be a long-term project, there's a lot of work to be done out there," said Lopez.

"That'll be great because in New Orleans we don't really have that much water area to swim in, so if they open it up a little bit more, hopefully it'll be better for everybody," said Dapremont.

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