State Park Swimming Area Closure Affects Gardner Lake Area Business

People who headed out to Gardner Lake State Park in Salem this past weekend might have realized the swimming area was closed because of bacteria in the water.

But that didn’t mean the entire Gardner Lake was shut down.

It’s that kind of detail that has Valerie Hornat, who runs Laurel Lock Campground in the Oakdale section of Montville, concerned she might have lost some business.

“We did have empty sites and there may have been somebody that called us on Friday, head the report, and didn’t call us,” Hornat said.

Laurel Lock borders a different part of Gardner Lake. Uncas Health District samples her part of the water every two weeks.

Director of Health Patrick McCormack said his team tested the water Thursday, July 6 and okayed it for swimming. He said if there was a concerning detection of bacteria, the health district would resample as needed.

The health district is in contact with D.E.E.P. and typically knows when it closes a state swimming area, McCormack added.

The Department of Energy and Environmental protection said there could be many reasons why different parts of the same body of water test differently.

“It could have to do with terrain, it could have to do with where geese are located. Lot of factors could make (Laurel Lock) samples come out fine while ours are not,” said Susan Whalen, D.E.E.P deputy commissioner for environmental conservation.

Whalen said D.E.E.P will re-test the water at Gardner Lake State Park on Wednesday and Thursday. They’ll know by Friday whether they can reopen the swim area.

For now, Hornat posted signs letting campers know it’s OK to swim at her campgrounds, to avoid any confusion.

“Actually my daughter and the grandkids were down here and they weren’t feeling food the next day. They were wondering if it had anything to do with the water. And I had friends call and they said, ‘Oh, I heard your lake’s closed up.’ And you’re going, ‘What the heck? What’s going on down there,’” said Ronald Spurr of Meriden. He camps at Laurel Lock.

“We’re here. We know it’s clean. We know what happens on the state beach side of things where it gets overcrowded. So we were out on the boat and we had a great weekend,” said Robert Riendeau from Austin, Texas. He’s another camper at Laurel Lock.

Riendeau said some of his family heard the reports about Gardner Lake State Park and mistakenly believed the lake was shut down. So they didn’t show up for the weekend.

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