BAY VIEW — The beach at Bay View State Park is off limits because of fecal coliform bacteria found in the water, indicating fecal matter is present.
Park visitors are asked to avoid contact with the water until further notice.
The results of samples taken last week by volunteers with the Beach Environmental Assessment, Communication and Health program showed fecal coliform counts that surpassed the state Department of Health’s threshold for issuing an advisory, and the beach was closed Friday to recreation, BEACH program coordinator Debby Sergeant said.
BEACH volunteers expect to re-sample the water later this week and will continue to monitor the site through the summer.
Contact with fecal-contaminated water can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other waterborne illnesses that can be especially dangerous for children and the elderly. The bacteria can come from sewage overflows, unmaintained septic system discharges, wastewater treatment plants, stormwater and animal waste.
It’s not the first time the beach at Bay View State Park has been closed.
The beach has been watched closely over the years because of sporadic high concentrations of fecal coliform. It was closed to swimming several times in 2014 due to high levels of fecal coliform bacteria found in BEACH program samples.
The BEACH program tests for bacteria Memorial Day through Labor Day to help prevent people from getting sick when they play in the water.
Bay View was the only beach in Skagit County monitored through the BEACH program in 2014. This year, Deception Pass State Park and Seafarer’s Memorial Park were added to the list.
In July, Sargeant and beach specialist Julianne Ruffner scoured the beach looking for clues as to the source of the intermittent pollution. The search was inconclusive, and the presence of bacteria remains a head-scratcher.
“That day (in July) our results were moderately high, but after that day I think we had six or seven more weeks of sampling and we never got another high count after that,” Sargeant said. “I thought things were looking pretty good, so I was kind of surprised to see high counts again last week.”