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One 'Crappy' Report: Oregon Coast Beaches May Have Poo Issues

Published 07/16/23 at 4:51 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

One 'Crappy' Report on Oregon Coast Beaches and Frequency of Contaniments

(Oregon Coast) – Oregon's coastline may be among the poopiest in the nation, at least from one recent report by Environment America (EA) called “Safe for Swimming.” The group used data from the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Water Quality Monitoring Council, saying a high number of Oregon beaches tested came up with some amount of contamination on about one quarter of the days they were tested. (Above: Lincoln City, Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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17 out of the 21 beaches tested had fecal bacteria present that were potentially harmful, happening at least 25% or more of the testing days.

The study, however, does not necessarily click with Oregon Health Authority (OHA) numbers for beach advisories due to contamination. OHA tests some 80 beaches on the Oregon coast every three weeks from May through September and only issues a handful of advisories during that period.

The EA numbers studied all U.S. beaches using a variety of data sources, and it said some 55% of beaches around the entire country had at least one testing day when contamination was high enough to be worrisome.

That number rockets to 70% of beaches when you look at just the west coast, with California's lengthy coastline puffing up those numbers considerably. All numbers were from 2022.

However, Oregon coast strands appeared to have their own issues, as EA found some of the state's more polluted beaches tended to be at Rockaway Beach, Manzanita, Bastendorff near Coos Bay, and Harris Beach at Brookings.

Manzanita had the highest at 10 testing days and 9 of them coming up dirty: a 90% score.

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Bastendorf Beach had 86% of its seven days rate unsafe, and Harris Beach State Park also clocked in at that number.

Seal Rock State Recreation Site saw 83% and Rockaway Beach was at 82%.

Also mentioned were Sunset Bay State Park, two areas of Cannon Beach, Nye Beach and the D River access at Lincoln City, though in the 70 – 60 percentile range. The latter three, however, tend to come up a more often than many others when OHA issues a beach advisory.

EA, like OHA when it delivers advisories, said the sources of such pollution incidents can come from septic or sewer systems, rain runoff or livestock upstream. The actual cause of advisories is never known as scientists cannot trace them back.

Cannon Beach has banned feeding gulls in at least one area, because mass flocks of them hovering over humans feeding them can contaminate streams. Most oceanfront lodgings on the Oregon coast urge you not to feed them because of the droppings they leave on the properties.

You can keep an eye on any possible advisories at the OHA testing page.


Sunset Bay, courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more


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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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