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DHS news release

October 6, 2004 Contacts: Jim Sellers (503) 945-5738; Kevin Price, OPRD (503) 986-0660
Technical contact: Greg Pettit, DEQ (503) 229-5349

Health advisories for water contact at Cannon and Oswald West State Park beaches are lifted

Health advisories for contact with marine water at Cannon Beach in Clatsop County and at Oswald West State Park beach in Tillamook County were 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 Oct. 1 after water sample tests at Cannon Beach and Oswald West State Park beach 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 did not pose a higher than normal risk associated with 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 Oct. 4, Cannon beach water tests were at less than 10 and 63 organisms/100 milliliters of marine water and Oswald West State Park beach water tests were at less than 10 and 20 organisms/100 milliliters of marine water.

Water quality is monitored at 19 beaches along the coast under the Oregon Beach Monitoring Program, funded by an EPA grant. DHS administers the program and DEQ is responsible for the water quality testing. Water samples are tested for Enterococcus bacteria, a microorganism that in marine waters has been shown to have a greater correlation with swimming-associated illnesses than other bacterial organisms.

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

For information about water quality testing, contact DEQ at (503) 229-5349.