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DHS news release

May 14, 2004

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg, DHS (503) 731-4180, Kevin Price, State Parks (503) 986-0660
Technical contacts: Cindy Gaines, DHS (503) 731-4012, Larry Caton, DEQ (503) 229-5491

Health advisories for water contact at Sunset Bay and Mill beaches are lifted


Health advisories for contact with contaminated water at Sunset Bay State Park in Coos County and Mill Beach in Curry County are lifted today by the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), in conjunction with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

The advisories were issued on April 16 after water sample tests at Sunset Bay and Mill beaches showed elevated 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 May 11, Sunset Bay beach water tests ranged from less than 10 to 20 CFU/100 milliliters of marine water. On May 11, Mill beach water test were less than 10 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. See more details about the Beach program.