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Oregon beaches not so clean for swimming

by: COURTESY OF WILLAMETTE RIVERKEEPER - Volunteers pick up trash along the Willamette River. Oregon beaches scored poorly in the 24th-annual Vacation Beach Water Quality Report issued Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Oregon beaches ranked 18th out of 30 states for overall beach water quality.

The Natural Resources Defense Council monitors the beaches’ water quality to help people plan vacations and outings, and to draw attention to pollution problems that continue to plague public swimming areas.

Common pollutants, including viruses, bacteria and parasites in the water, often stem from storm drainage systems and untreated sewage overflows and spills.

The group relies on data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other sources. The report uses a new measuring tool for this year’s survey created by the EPA, called Beach Action Value, which gauges bacteria levels and other health factors. EPA calls it a “conservative, precautionary tool for making beach notification decisions.”

In the Natural Resources Defense Council’s latest survey, 10 percent of all national samples exceeded the Beach Action Value. In Oregon, 12 percent exceeded that value.

However, Oregon had the second-lowest number of samples used for the study among the 30 states, fewer than all but Alaska. Eighty Oregon beaches were not monitored or had fewer than a dozen samples taken.

Here are the Oregon beaches sampled in the study, followed by the number of samples and the percent that exceeded the Beach Action Value:

Clatsop County

Cannon Beach; 26 samples, 12%

Seaside Beach, 39, 5%

Tolovana State Park Beach, 39, 3%

Tillamook County

Rockaway Beach, 14, 7%

Short Sand Beach, 56, 18%

Twin Rocks Beach, 7, 14%

Lincoln County

Agate Beach, 7, 0%

Alsea River Recreation Area Beach, 19, 5%

D River Beach, 21, 0%

Nye Beach, 27, 11%

Lane County

Heceta Beach, 19, 5%

Coos County

Bastendorf Beach, 24, 8%

Sunset Bay State Park Beach, 23, 35%

Curry County

Harris Beach State Park, 32, 25%

Hubbard Creek Beach, 19, 16%

Mill Beach, 19, 11%

The Natural Resources Defense Council prepared an interactive map showing results for more than 3,000 beaches across the country. To read the group’s full report, Testing the Waters 2014, or conduct a search of your favorite beaches across the country: www.nrdc.org/water/oceans/ttw/default.asp.

Steve Law can be reached at 503-546-5139 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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