Water Warnings Lifted for Two Oregon Coast Areas
(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – UPDATE: WATER WARNINGS HAVE BEEN LIFTED. Enjoy the Ocean.
Two extremely popular beach areas of the north Oregon coast are no longer under a health advisory, after Oregon officials urged the public to not go into the water in the towns of Seaside and Cannon Beach. (Above: Indian Beach at Cannon Beach)
NOTE: THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE IS NO LONGER RELEVANT, but is left here for reference purposes..
Oregon Public Health Division (OPHD) issued the advisory early on June 27, after testing the ocean waters and finding enough traces of the enterococcus bacteria to warrant closing beaches in all of Seaside and all of Cannon Beach.
“The advisory is being issued due to elevated levels of the enterococcus bacteria, an indicator organism” said Jonathan Modie of OPHD. “When water quality monitoring samples show enteroccocci at 158 colony forming units (cfu) or greater per 100 ml, a beach advisory is issued.”
These higher-than-normal levels of fecal bacteria can result in diarrhea, stomach cramps, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses. OPHD warns you should avoid direct contact with the water, especially children and the elderly, who are more vulnerable to waterborne bacteria.
Signs are posted in Seaside and Cannon Beach, though some TV news crews on the north Oregon coast today have discovered the signs either few or sometimes covered up in what looks to be pranksters who close the folding signs.
OPHD said these increased pathogen and fecal bacteria can come from both shore and inland sources, such as storm water runoff, sewer overflows, failing septic systems, and even animal waste from livestock, pets and wildlife.
While these advisories are in effect at Seaside and Cannon Beach beaches, visitors should avoid wading in nearby creeks or in discolored water, and stay clear of water runoff flowing into the ocean. Even if there is no advisory in effect, officials recommend avoiding swimming in the ocean within 48 hours after a rainstorm.
You can still easily enjoy the beaches, however. Keith Chandler, manager of Seaside Aquarium, said to simply heed the warnings but continue playing on the sand.
“You can watch the ocean from one of the oceanfront bars or come to the aquarium too,” Chandler said.
State officials will continue to test throughout the next few days and say this warning could be lifted at any time, possibly even tonight.
Nearby beaches at Manzanita, Arch Cape, Gearhart or Warrenton are not affected.
One major misconception, however, is that the sometimes darker, browner waters that happen in Seaside are a kind of pollution, or that sea foam is a form of soap or other pollutant. Neither are true. While the state warnings do mention “discolored water,” this does not refer to the sometimes brownish waves on Clatsop beaches or sea foam. Both the brown color and sea foam are caused by phytoplankton, and they are a positive thing – a sign of a healthy ocean. More on that here.
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