Two Birch Bay beaches to be tested

Published on Thu, Feb 19, 2004
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Two Birch Bay beaches to be tested

Two Birch Bay beaches have made a list of 60 saltwater swimming spots across the state that will be checked for water quality this spring, according to the Department of Ecology.

Birch Bay near Terrell Creek and Birch Bay State Park made the list of saltwater beaches, and were chosen based on how much public use they get and how close they are to known or suspected sources of fecal pollution. The beaches will be monitored for bacterial contamination that potentially can make people sick.

Last fall, the public was invited to suggest 60 swimming beaches along Puget Sound and the Washington coast that should be checked for water quality. About 140 suggestions were received, and the state departments of ecology and health cut down that number to a draft list of 60.

�We don�t have enough money to test every saltwater beach in Washington, but we will get to the most-popular swimming beaches,� said Lynn Schneider, coordinator of the beach monitoring program. �The beaches that get the most use pose the greatest risk to public health if there is contamination present.�

The public is invited to comment on the draft list through March 31. A copy of the list can be viewed online at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/beach/proposed beaches2004.html. Those citizens interested in submitting written comments should write to: Lynn Schneider, Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47710, Olympia, Wash., 98504-7600 or email lysc461@ecy.wa.gov.

Various state and county agencies and the Surfrider Foundation are working with Ecology and Health on the program, using funding from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Monitoring results will be shared with the public to help reduce the risk of bacterial illness for those who use those beaches.

Last year, the Department of Health identified Birch Bay as one of 20 threatened shellfish areas across the state. The DOH lists runoff from farm animal waste, sewage systems and wildlife as pollution sources threatening the areas. As of 1997, three areas listed as threatened had becoming closed for harvesting, including Drayton Harbor.