Cape May Lifeguards

Cape May lifeguards Alex Steel and Kyle Donohue, keep watch over the beach at Perry Street in Cape May in this 2010 file photo. Cape May closed the Pittsburgh Avenue beach this week after an accidental sewage spill at a hotel. (Dale Gerhard/Press of Atlantic City).

Dale Gerhard

CAPE MAY -- A city beach reopened to the public Wednesday after it was closed because of high bacteria from a sewage spill at a nearby hotel.

The Cape May County Health Department tested the water off the Pittsburgh Avenue beach on Tuesday and found clean samples. The beaches were allowed to reopen at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Health Department closed the beach on Saturday after the city's code enforcement office found sewage emptying into a storm drain outside La Mer Beachfront Inn.

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Mayor Ed Mahaney said a hotel contractor was doing plumbing work when sewage from the inn spilled into the storm drains. The Health Department closed the Pittsburgh Avenue beach as a precaution but water tests Sunday and Monday found high levels of bacteria that warranted continued closure.

Tests Tuesday found the water quality returned to normal, Health Department Director Kevin Thomas said.

It was the first and only Cape May County beach to be closed for bacteria so far this year, Thomas said.

"They had some workers there all weekend trying to straighten out the situation," Thomas said. "Things like that happen periodically when there are a lot of people throwing things in sewers they shouldn’t."

Mahaney said contractors who perform sewer work normally take precautions that prevent spills. City employees did their best to clean out the storm drains after the spill, he said.

The city's 26 other beaches were not affected and remained open.

Staff writer

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