Beach Bacteria Again in the News

Hug Point, OR. Photo by R. Emanuel

Hug Point, OR. Photo by R. Emanuel

Oregon beaches are known for their pristine beauty and open access. But as development increases along them, impacts are being felt. Oregon Live (the Oregonian) published the results of the annual Natural Resources Defense Council report “Testing the Waters 2009”.  Several Oregon beaches made the list of problematic areas because of beach bacteria counts that were deemed unhealthy by state and federal standards.  Below is a summary of the bad news.

Beach County Samples % above standard
Harris Curry 97 20
Nye Lincoln 97 7
Sunset Bay Coos 67 6
Rockaway Tillamook 55 5
Bandon Wayside Coos 38 5
Gold Curry 20 5
Cannon Clatsop 121 4
Mill Curry 78 4

The full Oregonian article can be found here. What can be done about beach bacteria? Here are some immediate steps:

1. Scoop the poop! Pet waste contributes to significant amounts of fecal coliform on public beaches.

2. Care for your beach-side septic system. Septic system leach fields should function properly and drain into the ground where soil microorganisms can process the waste products. Poorly functioning septics will often well up on the surface and can then flow into local streams or directly on to the beach. More information can found at the OSU Well Water Program site.

3. Manage stormwater to keep it from flowing into local streams and on to beaches.  As stormwater flows increase, beach bacteria counts tend to increase in porportion.  Consider reducing your home or business contribution to stormwater by installing a rain garden or other Low Impact Development technology.  More information can be found here.

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