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DHS news release

March 26, 2004

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180
Robert Smith, OPRD (503) 986-0665
Technical contacts: Cindy Gaines, DHS (503) 731-4012
Larry Caton, DEQ (503) 229-5491

Health advisories for water contact at Mill and Harris beaches are lifted

Health advisories for contact with contaminated water at Mill Beach and Harris Beach in Curry County were 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 Curry County Health Department.

The advisory for Mill Beach was issued on Nov. 21, 2003, after water sample tests showed unhealthful levels of Enterococcus, a bacterial contaminant. The advisory for Harris Beach was issued on Feb. 2, 2004. 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 March 24, Mill Beach water tests were at, or less than, 10 CFU/100 milliliters of marine water and at Harris Beach water tests ranged from fewer than 10 CFU/100 milliliters of marine water to 41 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.