Birch Bay Gets Excellent Water Quality Report for Summer 2015

posted Apr 11, 2016, 12:17 PM by Ingrid Enschede   [ updated Apr 11, 2016, 12:22 PM ]
Enjoying Birch Bay.
Don't let the recent biotoxin (red tide) shellfish harvest closure for Whatcom County beaches keep you from playing and swimming in Birch Bay this summer.  

The State Departments of Ecology and Health's BEACH (Beach Environmental Assessment, Communication, and Health) program sends staff to collect marine water quality samples from Birch Bay and other popular recreational beaches around Puget Sound every summer.  Bacteria levels in the marine water are analyzed, and the public is notified if there is a health risk from coming into contact with the water.  The good news is, similar to years past, marine water quality in Birch Bay was excellent in 2015.  

Look up the latest water quality data on swimming beaches around the Puget Sound region from the BEACH home page



Photo credit: G. Larson

Here's more from BEACH program staff.

How'd your beach do in 2015? 

Curious to see how your favorite beach fared for healthy swimming last year? See how the 2015 swimming season stacked up. In the BEACH Program 2015 Annual Report you'll find the top swimming beaches for water quality, beach water quality by county, and beaches that did not meet swimming standards.

View the BEACH Program 2015 Annual Report: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/beach/AnnualReport.html

See the good, the best, and the "poopy" marine swimming beaches for last year. Did your favorite beach make the list for the top swimming beaches? Or, did it make the list of beaches that were closed to recreation due to high levels of fecal bacteria?

Why does it matter?
Anyone who uses marine beaches for recreational purposes such as swimming, scuba diving, surfing or kayaking can be exposed to illness associated with water contaminated by sewage.

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.

How does poop get in the water?
Fecal bacteria get into the water in a number of ways. Some of it is natural, and a small amount of fecal bacteria does not pose a threat to public health.

Water at a beach can rise to an unhealthy level for many reasons. These include septic tanks that are not properly maintained, large amounts of sewage discharged from sewers overflowing during heavy rain or recreational boaters, wild animals congregating due to people feeding them, dogs pooping on beaches, used diapers being left on the beach, and others.

Click to learn how you can help keep your beach clean for swimming: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/beach/resources.html

More about BEACH
The Beach Environmental Assessment, Communication, and Health program, nicknamed BEACH for short, monitors marine beaches from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This program is a joint effort with the Washington State Department of Health and county and local agencies, tribal nations, and volunteers.

The BEACH program helps keep swimmers healthy on the coast and across Puget Sound by testing marine beaches for fecal bacteria and issuing public beach closure notices if the results show the water might pose a health risk. BEACH does not test freshwater beaches located on rivers and lakes.

Click to see if your beach is open:  https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/coastalatlas/Tools/BeachClosure.aspx
Remember, many beaches are only monitored Memorial Day through Labor Day. 

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by subscribing to our Fecal Matters RSS feed, checking the beach closure map on Coastal Atlas, or joining our listserv. Contact BEACH program manager Debby Sargeant with questions. 

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