Some of our beaches are not as pristine as we think. In fact, Brookings’ Harris Beach, one of the most popular beaches for locals and tourists, topped the 2008 list of Oregon beaches with the highest recorded level of fecal bacteria, according to the national environmental action group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Also high on the list are Brookings’ Mill Beach and Gold Beach.
The issue of Curry County’s polluted beaches has been reported by the Curry Coastal Pilot since state testing began in 2003. When something causes bacteria levels to rise, state agencies issue advisories warning people to stay out of the ocean until levels drop.
Determining the source of pollution – possible stormwater runoff, leaky septic tanks, or household pets, and which beaches are tested, is a matter of money. The state of Oregon, as well as 34 other areas in the United States, receives federal money from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because of the Beach Act of 2000.
Oregon received $229,570 this year, according to NRDC. The average grant awarded was around $280,000 that year. That money will only go so far and Oregon public health officials are asking residents to help finalize the list of proposed beach monitoring sites for the 2010 summer season.
“We want to know if Oregonians agree these sites are where we should do water quality testing – and why or why not,” said Jennifer Ketterman, beach monitoring program coordinator.
The list can be viewed online at www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/beaches/index.shtml. Curry County beaches on the list are Gold Beach, Hunter Creek Beach, Battle Rock Beach, and Harris Beach. Mill Beach is not on the list.
This is it, Curry County residents – a chance to rally for our local beaches. If there is a beach you think should be tested, then let officials know.