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.
Snohomish County saltwater swimming beaches
Washington State University Snohomish County Extension Beach Watchers sampled five beaches in Snohomish County each week from May 23 through Aug. 29, 2016, and Jetty Island beach every other week in July and August. Stillaguamish Tribal staff sampled one beach, Kayak Point, weekly during the same period.
Edmonds Marina Beach Park
During the 2016 swim season, Edmonds Marina Park beach had very good water quality. This beach met the swimming standards for all periods sampled.
Edmonds Underwater Park beach
Edmonds Underwater Park beach generally has good water quality. During the 2016 swim season, bacteria results were in the closure range on July 25 and July 27. As a result, a swimming closure was issued for this beach from July 28 to Aug. 1, 2016. This beach met swimming standards during all other periods sampled.
In August, we conducted an investigation of this beach, due the two high bacteria events. Beach wrack (decaying marine vegetation along the shoreline) tends to accumulate on the north side of the jetty. Scientific studies have indicated that beach wrack can promote the persistence of fecal indicator bacteria. High bacteria levels during the summer months may be part of a natural condition of the north side of this beach. We discussed our findings with City of Edmonds staff and the local health jurisdiction.
Jetty Island beach
Due to lack of public access, Jetty Island beach was sampled twice a month in July and August, four times in all. During the four sample events, water quality was excellent and met the swimming standards.
We conducted a shoreline survey at this beach on Aug. 9, 2016. During the survey, we observed several beachgoers feeding the birds. We recommend that visitors refrain from feeding wildlife, since waste from wildlife can increase fecal pollution in the area.
Kayak Point County Park beach
During the 2016 swim season, Kayak Point County beach had excellent water quality. This beach met the swimming standards for all periods sampled.
Mukilteo Lighthouse Park beach
Mukilteo Lighthouse Park beach had excellent water quality. This beach met the swimming standards for all periods sampled.
In addition to beach sampling, volunteers sampled water from a stormwater pipe that discharges to the beach. Samples were obtained eight times when the pipe was flowing. During two of the eight sample events, sampling showed greater than 104 enterococci bacteria per 100 milliliters of water, exceeding the swimming criteria. It is difficult to determine if this discharge impacts water quality along the beach area. No flow information is available, so bacteria loading cannot be calculated.
Picnic Point County Park beach
During the 2016 swim season, Picnic Point County beach generally had good water quality. On June 13, sampling results were in the advisory range, but subsequent sampling showed that bacteria levels had dropped into the safe swimming range. The beach met the swimming standards during all other periods sampled.
Data summary: Bacteria results compared to standards
The chart below summarizes the bacteria levels in these 6 beaches in relation to the EPA swimming standard:
|EPA Swimming Standard
|Edmonds Marina Beach Park
|Edmonds Underwater Park
|Kayak Point County Park
|Mukilteo Lighthouse Park
|Picnic Point County Park