Authorities said that raw sewage backed up out of a grease-clogged sewer on Eighth Street, and recent rains swept it into storm drains, which empty into the ocean. Officials suspect that the clog was caused by someone illegally dumping grease into the sewer. Authorities forbade swimming at the Eighth and Ninth street beaches Monday and, because of how the tides ran, closed the 10th Street beach Tuesday morning, said Jim Mallon, Ocean City's director of community service.
The Cape May County Health Department tested the water?, and by midafternoon Tuesday deemed the bacteria levels acceptable to reopen all three beaches. Kevin Thomas, the department's health officer, said that crews test ocean water at 61 beaches from Ocean City down to Cape May Point every Monday, and it's not uncommon to have high bacteria readings during those tests. Closures, though, are required only after two consecutive days of high readings, which is fairly rare, he added. Thomas could remember just one other closure this summer — one day last week at the beach off Stenton Place in Ocean City.
"Normally the water is fine," Thomas said. "But generally speaking, it's a good idea not to swim in the six hours or so after a major rainfall, when there's a lot of stuff coming out of those drains and washing off the streets."
Millon hopes that the city will find and punish the sewer dumper.
"If that's what happened, that a restaurant dumped grease in a sewer, they should really be fined, because tourism is the heart of the city, so you really have to protect the beach and the people at all costs," Millon said.
Millon said that the city won't start spying on sewers to detect the culprit. Rather, city officials will send out reminders to area merchants about how to properly dispose of grease.
Contact Dana DiFilippo at 215-854-5934 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @DanaDiFilippo and read her blog, phillyconfidential.com.