'Malfunction' at treatment plant forces stretch of beach to close in Wildwood Crest

Justin Udo
July 01, 2019 - 5:15 pm

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WILDWOOD CREST, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Swimming is currently off limits at a stretch of the beach in Wildwood Crest, due to potentially high bacteria levels.

Parts of the beach are temporarily closed to the public as a precautionary measure, following a "malfunction" at the Cape May County Municipal Utility Authority Seven-Mile Treatment Center. Officials discovered Monday that phases of its wastewater treatment system failed to operate beginning sometime Sunday afternoon.

The closure is expected to last through Tuesday morning while officials conduct tests.

"What we had was a malfunction at the Wildwood sewage treatment plant," explained Kevin Thomas, director of the Cape May County Health Department. "There was no chorine being pumped into into the effluent."

The beaches are closed south of Miami Avenue to Jefferson Avenue.

Thomas said his team took bacteria samples and water tests, and he'll know for sure Tuesday if there was any bacteria in the water.

"And if there is no bacteria or the level is very low, then (the beaches) will be opened up immediately," he added.

This holiday week is a popular one at Wildwood, he noted. The town's population can increase from 100,000 to 700,000, so Thomas hopes to get the beach back up and running as soon as possible.

"I think it will come up clean," he assured of the tests. "I'm really hoping they come up clean, and I don't think it would last into the Fourth of July, that's for sure."

Thomas said other stretches of the beach are all open and ready for business.