BOSTON (CBS) — Of the 583 beaches tested in Massachusetts, nearly half tested positive for potentially unsafe levels of fecal bacteria at least one day last year, said a report by Environment America. The numbers have some residents concerned for their safety.

According to the report, in Norfolk County “the average beach was potentially unsafe for swimming on 21 percent of the days that sampling took place, a higher percentage than any other county in the state.

Environment Massachusetts Director Ben Hellerstein called the results “troubling.”

He said one of the factors is “outdated infrastructure combined with sewer systems with the stormwater runoffs from streets.”

“During heavy storms, those systems can become overwhelmed and discharge untreated or partially treated sewage into our waterway,” he continued.

Improving it could cost billions.

So what’s the quick solution? According to Hellerstein, it’s “rain gardens or rain barrels. They help to soak up some of the excess rainwater during heavy storms.”

Currently, communities don’t have to notify residents of a sewage spill, but a notification bill on Beacon Hill could change that. If passed, Massachusetts would be the 15th state to create such a law.

At Malibu Beach, nestled inside Dorchester bay, we spotted plenty of joggers and people enjoying the view, but no swimmers.

“I usually just walk the beach. I don’t really get in as much,” said Marcus Robinson, who was nearby. “Some people pee in it and it’s contaminated. It’s just not good to get in.”

Twelve percent of the sample days at Malibu Beach came back with potentially unsafe water last year.


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