The number of Ocean County bay, river, lake and creek beaches registering high bacteria levels is dropping. But the number with levels high enough to keep swimmers out has grown since Wednesday.

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New readings issued by the Ocean County Health Department cite closures at Bamber Lake in Lacey Township, Avon Road in Pine Beach and Beachwood Beach in Beachwood.

They join Harry Wright Lake high and low beaches in Manchester and Ocean County Park Lake in Lakewood as spots where swimming is not recommended.

Swim advisories remain at Waretown Lake in Ocean Township, Station Road in Pine Beach, A. Paul King Park Beach in Stafford Township, and Dudley Park Beach in Berkeley Township.

No longer on the list are Lake Horicon Beach in Lakehurst, Windward Beach in Brick, Lake Barnegat Middle Beach and Forest Row Avenue in Lacey, Summit Avenue in Island Heights, Hancock Avenue in Seaside Heights, Shelter Cove in Toms River, Wildwood and Anglesea Avenues in Ocean Gate, Station Road in Pine Beach and Brooklyn Avenue in Lavallette.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection reports no closures or advisories in Monmouth County. The DEP's list of closures and advisories for Ocean County is not as comprehensive as OCHD's..

Through Labor Day, salt water is tested each Monday for enterococcus, with a threshold of 104 colonies per 100 milliliters. Fresh water is sampled Tuedays for fecal coliform, with a limit of 200 colonies per 100 milliliters.

Readings exceeding recommended levels prompt swim advisories and a second round of tests the following day. Two days of excessive bacteria prompt closures and continued daily testing until levels subside.

Beachwood Beach has seen a dramatic reduction in bacteria-related closures since completion of a multi-million-dollar reconstruction project that repositioned a major outfall conduit away from the swim area.

Ocean County health and New Jersey environmental officials trace the elevated counts, in part, to last weekend's rain. More rain is expected Saturday.

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