Beach water quality rates ‘excellent’


Last updated 6/2/2016 at Noon

(above) A low-tide day at the Marina Beach dog park. While swimming is not allowed at the Edmonds dog park, the water quality at Marina Beach and Brackett's Landing was rated "excellent" last week by the Washington State Department of Ecology's BEACH program.

The water quality of Marina Beach and Brackett’s Landing was rated “excellent” last week by the Washington State Department of Ecology’s BEACH program.

Volunteers with the BEACH program, which monitors saltwater beaches to ensure waters are safe for swimming and recreational activities, collected samples for analysis on Monday, May 23, from six sites.

“Edmonds Marina Beach park did not have any bacteria detections,” BEACH program manager Debby Sargeant said. “At the Underwater Park [Brackett’s Landing] beach, two sites had bacteria levels of 10 (very, very low), and the other site had no detection of bacteria.

“All those beaches have excellent water quality.”

Three samples were collected from each beach – one to the north, south and mid-way – to test for enterococcus bacteria, or fecal bacteria.

Sargeant said the bacteria comes from warm-blooded animals, including humans, birds, dogs, seals, etc.

Last year’s results also were great, she said, and Snohomish County beaches generally get good results.

“The dog park is another matter,” Sargeant said, “and we don’t allow swimming there.”

The state collected water samples at the Marina Beach dog park from 2004 to 2009, and decided, along with county and city input, to have a permanent ban on swimming due to continuously high levels of bacteria.

“It’s better to swim on the side where they don’t allow the dogs,” Sargeant said.

However, Sargeant said picking up pet waste is a “big deal,” and dog owners should clean up after their pets to ensure the water quality remains high.

Samples will be collected each week through Aug. 31.

“The volunteers do a great job,” Sargeant said. “They’re really dedicated. They go out every single week and do the sampling to make sure the water is clean for the public to use.”

Marina Beach waters are sampled north of the rocks dividing the beach from the dog park, midway down the beach and north toward the marina.

One sample from Brackett’s Landing is collected near the ferry dock, and two others are collected north of the jetty.

Volunteers wade out into knee-deep water and fill a small, sterile 100 milliliter bottle with water from about 6 inches below the surface. The bottle is then capped, and the sample is put on ice in the dark.

Volunteers also provide an estimate of how many people are on the beach and the air temperature at the time the water is collected.

The sample is taken to the Everett Municipal Lab, where results are made available in 24 hours.

The lab will inform the Ecology Department of high results of bacteria or over 104 enterococcus per 100 milliliters of water. A swim advisory is issued at this level. If it’s above 276, a swim closure is issued.

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Tips for maintaining “excellent” water quality at Edmonds beaches:

• Pick up food waste and other trash so it does not attract wildlife.

• Pick up pet waste.

• Have children take frequent bathroom breaks.

• For kids in diapers, make sure he or she wears a swim diaper.

• Do not go in the water if you are sick.


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