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DHS news release

February 2, 2004

Media contacts: Patricia Feeny (503) 945-6955; Robert Smith, OPRD (503) 986-0665
Technical contacts: Cindy Gaines, DHS (503) 731-4012; Larry Caton, DEQ (503) 229-5491

Health advisory for water contact at Sunset Bay beach is lifted

A health advisory for contact with contaminated water at Sunset Bay State Park in Coos County is lifted today by the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), in conjunction with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and Coos County Health Department.

The advisory was issued on November 21, 2003, after water sample tests at Sunset Bay beach showed unhealthful levels of Enterococcus, a bacterial contaminant. Subsequent testing showed the contamination had subsided and the waters were safe for water-contact activities.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends the safe standard for Enterococcus to be no more than 158 colony-forming units (CFUs) per 100 milliliters of marine water.

On January 29, Sunset Bay beach water tests ranged from fewer than 10 CFU/100 milliliters of marine water to 40 CFU/100 milliliters of marine water.

Water quality is monitored at 52 beaches along the coast under the Oregon Beach Monitoring Program, funded by a grant from the EPA. DHS administers the program and DEQ is responsible for the water quality testing. Water samples are tested for Enterococcus bacteria, a microorganism that has been shown to have a greater correlation in marine waters with swimming-associated illnesses than other bacterial organisms.

For information about water quality testing, contact DEQ at (503) 229-5491.

Information can also be obtained from the Beach Program at (503) 731-4012. Details about the Beach program, along with complete test data, are on the Web.