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Public Health News

Posted on: July 26, 2018

Quilcene Beach Reopened

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Port Townsend – Due to declining bacteria levels, Jefferson County Public Health has removed the health advisory at Quilcene Beach, 1731 Linger Longer Road, and removed the closed sign. After resampling occurred at the beach, also known as Herb Beck Marina Beach, fecal bacteria counts now average 20 enterococcus (a type of fecal bacteria), which is below the Washington BEACH program warning level of 104.

Last week, high levels of bacteria — possibly due to a failing septic system nearby — prompted Jefferson County Public Health to issue a health advisory and post a closed sign at the beach on July 20. On Wednesday, July 18, enterococcus levels averaged over 600, more than double the closure level. The failed septic system is being repaired and other potential sources are still being investigated.

Fecal bacteria are indicators of pathogens that can make people sick. Contact with fecal contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections, and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

On Friday, July 20, an unrelated incident also resulted in poor water quality in the nearby Little Quilcene River when streamflow at the gage went from 34 cubic feet per second to 212 cubic feet per second between 1:15 and 2:30 pm. The sudden flood was accompanied by brown, turbid water. The river level has since come down to normal and the water cleared. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is looking into reports of a beaver dam having been breached.

Jefferson County Public Health monitors local saltwater swimming beaches weekly from Memorial Day through Labor Day as part of the Washington BEACH program. For questions about this and other Jefferson County beaches, call 360-385-9444 or visit our website at jeffersoncountypublichealth.org. To check the status of monitored beaches throughout Washington, see the Ecology Coastal Atlas at fortress.wa.gov/ecy/coastalatlas. For more information about the BEACH program see doh.wa.gov, ecology.wa.gov, and epa.gov/beaches.

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