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The Parmelee Post: Burlington Enforces ‘E. Coli-Only’ Swim Times at Beaches


Published August 4, 2018 at 4:00 p.m.

  • Bryan Parmelee
The Queen City is taking measures to allow more families the chance to spend some quality time in Lake Champlain this summer.

As of August 1, Burlington has established designated times during which only families of E. coli are allowed to swim in the lake.

“This policy is all about fairness,” explained Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront official Sue Wedge. “Just like you and I, these E. coli simply want the opportunity to spend some quality time in the water with their families, especially on really hot days following a period of heavy rain."

Wedge said the new rules will help ensure that all E. coli families can fully enjoy the lake without the fear of human confrontation.

“Unfortunately it can be hard for these families to really enjoy themselves out there when they’re too busy worrying that one, or several billion of their children will be swallowed by a human swimmer,” she said.

The newly enacted policy has already faced pushback from critics who feel the lake should be reserved for human families.

“This is just another example of families who weren’t even born here, moving to Burlington and ruining the state for true Vermonters,” said stale potato chip collector and presumed John Rodgers supporter Geoff Myland. “If they want to enjoy my lake they’re gonna have to get through my lower digestive tract first.”

Others seem to view the designated swim times as a necessary, if inconvenient, compromise.

“It sucks not being able to get into the lake whenever I want, but honestly I can’t help but admire some of these E. coli strains,” said inflatable tube inflation specialist Huff Pufferman. “I heard about one family that swam all the way from the Burlington wastewater treatment plant to Beekmantown, N.Y., in a single day," Pufferman enthused. "Michael Phelps got nothing on that shit!”

Olympic-caliber swimmers or not, more E. coli families than ever are sure to be taking a few laps around Vermont’s largest pool before the summer's end.

“More and more families are choosing to move to Burlington, so it’s only natural that those figures would grow to include millions of gallons worth of E. coli,” said Wedge. “And like it or not, they’re just as entitled to this lake as families who move here from Ohio.”

The Parmelee Post is an occasional series featuring tough investigative reporting on news that hasn't happened.