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DHS news release

September 2, 2004

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180; Kevin Price, OPRD (503) 986-0660

Technical contacts: Cindy Gaines, DHS (503) 731-4012; Greg Pettit, DEQ (503) 229-5349


Health advisories for water contact at Beverly Beach and Sunset Bay state parks are lifted

Health advisories for contact with contaminated water at Beverly Beach State Park beach in Lincoln County and Sunset Bay State Park beach in Coos 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 Aug. 26 after water sample tests at Beverly and Sunset Bay beaches showed higher than normal levels of Enterococcus, a type of fecal bacteria, in the marine water. Subsequent testing showed the contamination had subsided and the waters were safe for water-contact activities.

Based on the frequency and types of use of Oregon’s ocean waters and federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations, DHS considers an acceptable concentration of Enterococcus to be 158 organisms per 100 milliliters of marine water. Advisories are issued when Enterococcus levels are at or above 158 organisms per 100 milliliters of marine water.

On August 31, Beverly beach water tests were all less than 10 organisms per 100 milliliters of marine water and Sunset Bay beach water tests ranged from less than 10 to 10 organisms per 100 milliliters of marine water.

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.

Information can be obtained from the Beach Program at (503) 731-4012. Details about the Beach program, along with complete test data, are on the Web at the DHS public health beach monitoring program Web site. For information about water quality testing, contact DEQ at (503) 229-5349.