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DHS news release

June 18, 2004

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180, Kevin Price, OPRD (503) 986-0660
Technical contact: Cindy Gaines, DHS (503) 731-4012
Greg Pettit, DEQ (503) 229-5349

Health advisory for water contact at Harris beach is lifted


A health advisory for contact with contaminated water at Harris Beach State Park in Curry County is 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 advisory was issued on April 16, 2004 after water sample tests at Harris beach showed higher than normal 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 June 16, 2004 beach water tests contained less than 10 CFU/100 milliliters of marine water at all three sample sites.

Water quality is monitored at 19 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) 229-5349.

Information can also be obtained from the Beach Program at (503) 731-4012. Details about the Beach program are on the Web.