A recreational use health advisory was lifted in Cannon Beach in time for Labor Day weekend after recent testing showed fecal bacteria levels have subsided. The state continues to monitor local beaches.
The Oregon Health Authority issued the advisory Wednesday, Aug. 29, after water samples showed higher-than-normal levels of fecal bacteria in ocean waters. A specific source was never identified, however.
High readings in ocean waters can come from sources such as stormwater runoff, sewer overflows, failing septic systems, as well as animal waste from livestock, pets and wildlife, according to the health authority.
Contact with ocean water no longer poses a health risk, though officials recommend staying out of large pools on the beach that are frequented by birds and runoff from those pools as the water may still contain increased bacteria from fecal matter.
The advisory — the first of the year — comes weeks after the city decided to reinstate a water testing program following high bacteria readings at the Chisana Creek and Gower Street outfalls. While the city has seen high readings on-and-off throughout the summer at these outfalls, advisories are only issued for contaminated marine waters.
City Manager Bruce St. Denis said water samples have shown a few high readings at the outfalls after rain events but can’t confirm whether or not this is a contributing factor to the current advisory in marine waters.
The city is unaware of any specific events that would trigger the reading, St. Denis said.
Contact with waterborne bacteria can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses, according to the health authority.