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More than 50 Massachusetts beaches remain closed due to high bacteria levels and harmful algae

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — Sunbathers were sprawled on the sand at Waushakum Pond but not a soul was in the water -- and with good reason. Waushakum is one of more than fifty Massachusetts beaches closed over the weekend because of contamination -- in this case, from harmful algae overgrowth.

But the vast majority of beaches with swimming bans tested for high levels of bacteria -- most likely e.coli, which is associated with human and animal feces. Closed beaches included both salt and freshwater sites in more than thirty communities, according to the new state Water Quality Dashboard, rolled out by the state Department of Public Health.

At Ashland State Park, some didn’t realize the beach was closed -- and actually has been for many days.

“I came to swim and to hang out with my good friend,” said Amy Mevorach, who was hauling enough beach paraphernalia to maybe outweigh her disappointment. “There are definitely inconveniences that come up because of climate change. It’s a systemic thing we need to address.”

On the bright side, said Mevorach, parking was plentiful because of the swimming ban. “It’s still peaceful and relaxing to be here with the woods and a friend and the sunshine,” she said.

Juliana Wall knew enough to expect no swimming at the Park. She’s been aware of its contamination problems this summer.

“It’s really unfortunate,” Wall said. “It’s a really nice beach and I live in town here and it’s a great way to bring together community -- especially to cool off in the summer.”

And Wall isn’t holding out much hope the water quality at Ashland State Park will turn around any time soon.

“Here’s hoping we can swim again there this summer,” she said. “But I don’t know... I’m not planning on it.”

The state listed two Framingham bathing sites as closed. At Learned Pond, bacterial contamination was the issue. Thus, on a bright, warm summer day, the parking lot was nearly empty.

Bill Nugent sat in the shade, quite a distance from the water.

“I guess it’s necessary,” he said. “But it puts a lot of people out. I’m not much of a swimmer, but it does my heart good to see the Moms and the kids, families that come because they love places like this.”

For Nugent, Learned Pond holds a special place in his memories.

“My Mom used to take me and my little sister here when we were real young kids,” he said.

Nugent’s Mom and sister both passed away seven years ago. In fact, he was at the beach to mark the anniversary day his mother’s passing.

He requested a song from a local radio station in honor of his mother -- an Irish tune with a theme about someday meeting again. As it played, Nugent closed his eyes -- and remembered.

The full list of current beach closures can be viewed here.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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