Washington State Department of Ecology - April 23, 2013

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State to begin health tests of popular saltwater beaches

OLYMPIA – The state’s BEACH Program will soon begin testing the state’s most popular saltwater beaches for bacteria to prevent people from getting sick from playing in the water.

The federally funded, state-run BEACH (Beach Environmental Assessment, Communication and Health) Program notifies the public when beaches are a health risk, and educates people about ways to avoid getting sick from playing in saltwater.

Contact with fecal-contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections, and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

Sources of bacteria on beaches include sewer overflows, discharges from unmaintained septic systems, wastewater treatment plants, sewage spills, and feces from dogs, wildlife, and birds.

“The BEACH program is the best source of information for saltwater beach health in the state of Washington,” said Christopher Clinton, acting coordinator of the BEACH Program.

Clinton added: “Our partnerships with local health departments, universities, local volunteers and tribes are the strength of the BEACH Program.”

The local partners collect weekly samples to look for fecal pollution and the BEACH Program notifies the public when there are problems.

The program is jointly coordinated by the state departments of Ecology and Health. The annual May – September project is implemented by local health agencies, tribal nations, university coordinators, non-profits, and volunteers.

The BEACH Program posts signs to notify people when there is a higher risk of illness at our most popular saltwater beaches. The program sends timely email notifications and social media posts to inform the public when beach health problems arise.

While the main goal is to monitor water quality and notify the public when bacteria levels are high, BEACH also works with local and state partners to investigate and correct the problems whenever possible.

The program is accepting public comments about the proposed list until May 20. Send your comments to Christopher Clinton at christopher.clinton@ecy.wa.gov or call him at 360-407-6154.

Sign up to receive BEACH’s email alerts at:  http://listserv.wa.gov/cgi-bin/wa?A0=BEACH

Here is the list of saltwater beaches proposed for monitoring in 2013:

Clallam County
Cline Spit County Park
Hollywood Beach
Salt Creek Recreation Area

Grays Harbor County
Westhaven State Park, Half Moon Bay
Westhaven State Park
South Jetty Westport - The Groynes

Island County
Freeland County Park
Windjammer Lagoon
Windjammer Park

Jefferson County
Fort Worden State Park
Irondale County Park
Herb Beck Marina

King County
Alki Beach Park
Carkeek Park
Golden Gardens Park
Lincoln Park
Redondo County Park
Saltwater State Park
Seahurst Park

Kitsap County
Arness County Park
Eagle Harbor Waterfront Park
Evergreen Rotary Park
Fay Bainbridge Park
Illahee State Park
Indianola Dock
Joel Pritchard Park
Lions Field
Point No Point Lighthouse Park
Pomeroy Park - Manchester Beach
Scenic Beach State Park
Seabeck Conference Center Saltwater Lagoon
Seabeck Conference Center Beach
Silverdale Waterfront Park

Makah Nation
Dakwas Park Beach
Front Street Beach, East
Hobuck Beach
Sooes Beach
Third Beach, Neah Bay
Warmhouse Beach
The Makah Tribe's Beach Program is funded with a separate BEACH grant from EPA

Mason County
Allyn Waterfront Park
Potlatch State Park
Twanoh State Park
Walker County Park

Pierce County
Browns Point Lighthouse Park
Chambers Creek Park
Dash Point County Park
Kopachuck State Park
Owens Beach/Point Defiance Park
Purdy Spit County Park
Sunnyside Beach Park
Titlow Park Waterfront Dock / Ruston Way

Skagit County
Bayview Boat Launch
Bayview State Park

Snohomish County
Edmonds Marina Beach Park
Edmonds Underwater Park
Howarth Park
Jetty Island
Kayak Point County Park
Mukilteo Lighthouse Park
Picnic Point County Park

Thurston County
Burfoot County Park

Whatcom County
Birch Bay Beach & Tidelands Access (Birch Bay County Park)
Larrabee State Park
Little Squalicum Park
Port of Bellingham Marine Park

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Media Contacts:

Sandy Howard, Department of Ecology, 360-407-6408, 360-791-3177 (cell); sandy.howard@ecy.wa.gov

Donn Moyer, Department of Health, 360-236-4076, donn.moyer@doh.wa.gov

For more information:

BEACH Program (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/beach/index.html)

Ecology’s social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)