These sweltering temperatures are sure to make a lot of us here in Western New York a little sweaty. What better way is there to cool off than taking a refreshing dip in one of our many waterfront hot spots?

We’ve sure got a lot to choose from around here. Gorgeous beaches like Wilkeson Pointe, Sunset Bay, and Gallagher are all a short drive from Buffalo, and are packed during the summer with locals looking to get their swimsuits on and dive in.

Unfortunately this past 4th of July, some area residents found out the hard way that one of their favorite summer spots is now a no-go, and were surprised to find out why.

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Olcott Beach Unsafe To Swim

The Niagara County Department of Health has deemed Olcott Beach unsafe for swimmers until further notice thanks to the high amount of bacteria present in the water.

A test conducted by the department on Monday, July 3rd, found unacceptable levels of E.coli bacteria in Lake Ontario. They’ve since posted on their website that the waters along the beach are unsafe to swim in.

Olcott Beach

Niagara County tests for E.coli levels at their area beaches once a week, at both a shallow depth and a deep depth.

How Did Lake Ontario Become Contaminated By E.coli?

Due to the high cost of testing, it’s difficult to determine exactly how and when Lake Ontario became contaminated with E.coli, and there are several possibilities why the levels of the bacteria could be higher at Olcott Beach than normal.

For one, the high amount of rain we’ve seen in Western New York recently could have caused dog, seagull, and geese feces to wash into the water from the shoreline.

E.coli can also be pushed into the water thanks to things like old sewer pipes leaking human waste into our waterways.

Finally, microbes of surviving E.coli bacteria could have potentially reproduced in lake sediments and the beach sand.

Here’s Why You Can't Swim At Olcott Beach

The presence of E.coli (Escherichia coli) in Lake Ontario increases the risk of illness from exposure. 


E.coli exposure can be extremely dangerous for vulnerable members of the population, including those with compromised immune systems, the elderly, and small children. 

What Are The Symptoms Of E. Coli Exposure?

In most cases, swimming in waters with higher levels of E.coli (like Olcott Beach) can cause symptoms that are mild but definitely not fun, like:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rashes (aka “Swimmer’s Itch”)
  • Eye and ear infections

However, some strains of the bacteria can lead to serious health complications, including but not limited to kidney failure and in rare cases death.

How Long Will Olcott Beach Be Closed For Swimming?

Unfortunately for hot Niagara County residents, the Department of Health has deemed Olcott Beach unsafe to swim in until further notice

It’s disappointing to know that one of our favorite beaches will be unavailable for swimming, splashing and playing for the time being.

Thankfully, the Buffalo area’s massive waterfront has tons of other places to enjoy during these steamy summer months. Keep scrolling to see some of Western New York’s other favorite beaches.

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