E. coli closes Puffer’s Pond for at least a week

Puffer’s Pond in North Amherst closed for at least a week on Tuesday due to high levels of E. coli.

Puffer’s Pond in North Amherst closed for at least a week on Tuesday due to high levels of E. coli. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 07-05-2024 7:41 PM

AMHERST — Puffer’s Pond is being closed to swimming after high levels of E. coli bacteria were measured in the water in the latest round of water analysis testing.

After being closed for several weeks at the end of last summer due to the same concerns over E. coli, the pond, located off State Street in North Amherst, had remained open for swimming throughout the warm spells this spring and summer

Assistant Town Manger David Ziomek said Tuesday, though, that with the test results, he will be putting up signs at the beach and parking areas that Puffer’s will remain closed for the next week. The next round of E. coli bacteria tests, to determine if the water has returned to safe levels, will come on July 9.

A warning is also posted on the town website, reading, “Due to high bacteria levels, we recommend not swimming in Puffer’s Pond until new water testing results are posted.”

Over the winter, Ziomek told the Conservation Commission that various studies are ongoing in an effort to determine why the E. coli bacteria often exceeds limits and how to improve the pond.

Often, the high E. coli bacteria tests come after rainy weather and downpours, though it’s uncertain how runoff from the brooks and streams that feed Puffer’s Pond contribute to this.

The samples collected at the pond are brought to the Department of Public Works’ wastewater treatment plant on Mullins Drive, where they take 24 hours to culture.

Spray park offline

The closing of Puffer’s Pond comes as the spray park at Groff Park recently broke down and is offline, with a part ordered so repairs can be made.

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Amherst Communications Manager Samantha Giffen said with the splash pad not in use, families with younger children are encouraged to head to the wading pool at Mill River Recreation Area, which is free.

For those who want a swimming experience, both the full-size Mill River and War Memorial pools are open daily, though admission is charged at both sites.

For resident adults, the cost is $5 for a day pass and for children residents the charge is $4 for day pass. The town website has more details about the admission charges, season passes and the times when there are open and lap swims.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.