High Bacteria Levels Result in
by Mia Carlson
CLARKSTON, WA - The public is being advised to not swim in or drink shoreline river water near the Chestnut Recreation Area in Clarkston after routine weekly testing showed elevated levels of fecal bacteria. As a precaution, the Walla Walla District of US Army Corps of Engineers has posted warning signs near the shoreline.
Initial water-testing results received yesterday revealed fecal bacteria counts of 220 per each 100 milliliters of sample. That figure exceeds the 126 per 100 ml. that is deemed safe for swimming areas by Washington state health officials.
Additional water samples will be taken Monday to be tested again for fecal coliforms that pose a potential hazard to human health. District natural resource management officials routinely sample shoreline river water at the Chestnut Recreation Area, even though there is no requirement to do so in recreation areas that don’t feature a designated swim beach.
"For health and safety reasons, we are urging people not to swim or play in the water at Chestnut. The shoreline will not be physically blocked, however, signs are being posted indicating that it is not safe to swim in the area," said Lower Granite Natural Resource Manager Jason Achziger.
The Corps’ warning signs will remain in place until future tests show that fecal bacteria levels do not exceed state and federal levels considered safe for people. Boating and fishing in nearby areas remain unaffected, however, fish caught in waters near the swim beach should be thoroughly cleaned and fully cooked before eating.
“The Corps routinely samples water at designated swim beaches and sometimes at other high-visitation areas,” said Achziger. “This fecal bacteria contamination in shoreline waters likely developed because of waterfowl feces, combined with recent higher seasonal temperatures.”
For additional information, call the Corps' Lower Granite Natural Resources Management Office in Clarkston, Wash., at 509-751-0240.
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