By Edie Jeffers
TACOMA, Wash. – Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department recently reopened the beach at Dash Point Park as bacteria counts have dropped to a safe level.
Although samples showed lower bacteria counts, health officials needed time to investigate a report of a possible failing septic system near the park. The report proved to be incorrect.
“All six water samples we collected on Wednesday had safe levels of bacteria, and this should represent the current water quality conditions at Dash Point Park,” said Ray Hanowell, environmental health specialist.
High bacteria counts stem from sewage spills, failing septic systems, boaters dumping untreated wastewater, and even animal waste. High bacteria levels can greatly increase people’s risk for gastrointestinal illnesses if they swim in or ingest the water.
While health officials do not know the specific cause of Monday’s high bacteria counts, the most likely culprit would have been a boater dumping untreated waste. The department will continue to monitor the area through routine water sampling.
When the health department closed the beach on Monday, the bacteria counts were 10 times the level than when it normally closes marine beaches.
More information on beach closures, visit www.tpchd.org/environment/