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Jefferson County annual BEACH report

Three beaches in Jefferson County were sampled weekly from May 25 through Aug. 31, 2016:

  • Fort Worden State Park
  • Irondale Beach Park
  • Oak Bay County Park

All Jefferson County beaches that were sampled had good water quality with little to no bacteria present during most sampling events. However, Irondale Beach Park has a permanent swim advisory. Improved water quality at Irondale may result in an upgrade for swimming by the Jefferson County.

Details on each beach are presented in the text below.

Beach at Fort Worden State Park 

Keeping beaches safe

The Beach Environmental Assessment, Communication & Health (BEACH) Program ensures that marine water is safe to swim and play in and informs the public if water doesn't meet swimming standards.

During the 2016 beach season, 61 public beaches on coastlines were sampled from Memorial Day through Labor Day. High-use beaches were sampled weekly or biweekly for enterococcus, a type of fecal bacteria. High enterococcus levels are linked to swimmer illness.

Jefferson County saltwater swimming beaches

We monitored three Jefferson County beaches weekly during the swimming season. All Jefferson County beaches that were sampled had good water quality with little to no bacteria present during most sampling events.

Fort Worden State Park beach

Port Townsend Marine Science Center volunteers sampled this beach 15 times during the swimming season. This beach had very good water quality and met swimming standards during all periods sampled.

We conducted a shoreline survey at this beach on May 4, 2016.

Irondale Beach Park

During the monitoring period, this beach was sampled 15 times during the swimming season and had very good water quality and all samples met swimming standards. Due to historic high levels of bacteria in Irondale Creek, this beach has a permanent swim advisory that is now being reconsidered.

Jefferson County has conducted additional sampling in the Irondale area and corrected septic system issues. They have observed improved water quality in Irondale Creek and will consider removing the permanent advisory for the 2017 season if bacterial water quality standards are not exceeded.

On June 28, 2016, we conducted a shoreline survey at this beach. Recommendations were to add a garbage can at the south end of the beach path due to observed litter and to add a monitoring site at the mouth of Irondale Creek to the routine BEACH Program sampling.

Oak Bay County Park beach

During the 2016 swim season, Oak Bay County Park beach had good water quality. On July 27 this beach had sampling results in the advisory range, but subsequent sampling showed that bacteria levels had returned to the safe swimming range.

Data summary: Bacteria results compared to standards

The chart below summarizes the bacteria levels in these three beaches in relation to the EPA swimming standard:

  Geometric Mean 90th Percentile
EPA Swimming Standard ≤ 35 ≤ 276
Fort Worden State Park Beach 11 17
Irondale Beach Park 16 27
Oak Bay County Park Beach 20 56