Mission Beach Water Monitoring – Summer 2016

mission beach water


By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

With the assistance of WSU Beach Watchers volunteers, the quality of water at Mission Beach is being monitored weekly. So far this summer, the water has been sampled seven times. Samples are analyzed at the Tulalip Water Quality Lab.

From Valerie Streeter, Stormwater Planner in Tulalip Natural Resources:

“This year is the first time Tulalip Natural Resources with WSU Beach Watcher Volunteers have monitored the water at Mission Beach for safe swimming conditions so we weren’t sure what we would find. It’s great to see that beach water is clean so far! The weekly water monitoring will continue until August 30.”

The results show that bacteria levels in the water are below the threshold limit for swimming, which means that the water is clean. The graph below shows the average result from the three beach sampling stations. The red line shows the bacteria threshold limit and the blue line is the water quality data.


mission beach graphic water


With the good news of Mission Beach having clean water with safe swimming conditions, be sure you make a trip before summer is over.

Be aware of lake risks while enjoying summer swimming

Don’t drink the water, Snohomish Health District advises
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Swimming or playing in water that is contaminated or high in bacteria or natural toxins can affect your health. Swimming pools, spas, lakes, rivers, or oceans are all potential sources of water-related illness. Recreational water illnesses typically affect a person’s stomach and intestines, causing diarrhea and vomiting. Water quality can also affect your skin or respiratory system.
The recent outbreak of illness at Horseshoe Lake in Kitsap County was caused by norovirus found in the water at the swimming beach. The lake is closed until testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm that the virus is no longer present.
While Snohomish Health District has investigated a handful of illness reports related to local lakes, no common cause or illness has been identified. “We’ve seen nothing to indicate an outbreak of water-related illness here,” said Health Officer Dr. Gary Goldbaum.
The Health District is working with the Snohomish County Parks Department and city beach programs to ensure that required public health warnings (PDF) are present at beaches, including this language:
“The swimming waters at this beach are not treated to control spread of disease. Swimming
beach water, if swallowed, can sometimes cause illness because of bacteria, viruses or parasites in the water. All beach users should follow bathing beach recommendations to prevent
contamination of the water and should avoid swallowing of any beach water.”
Recreational water illnesses such as norovirus, cryptosporidium, giardia, shigella, and E. colihave the potential to infect a person who accidentally swallows or has contact with contaminated water. In most instances, the symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting will improve one to two days after you get sick. Some people get dehydrated or have other side effects, and need to see a doctor.
“Lake water is not the same as drinking water,” Dr. Goldbaum reminds children and parents.
If you think you got sick from a public water or food source – such as a swimming beach, campground, or restaurant – contact the Snohomish Health District at 425.339.5278.
We will ask you questions about what you ate and where you’ve been over the past several days to try to narrow down the many possible causes of illness.
For more tips on keeping safe while swimming, see the Hot Topic page of our website.

Tribes monitor Puget Sound for toxins

Nisqually natural resources technician Jimsan Dunstan samples water at Johnson Point in Olympia.
Nisqually natural resources technician Jimsan Dunstan samples water at Johnson Point in Olympia.

– Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

The Jamestown S’Klallam, Nisqually and Stillaguamish tribes are participating in the SoundToxins monitoring program to provide early warning of harmful algal blooms (HAB) and outbreaks of bacteria that could sicken humans.

“We want to make sure shellfish are safe to consume, not just for tribal members, but for all seafood consumers,” said Sue Shotwell, shellfish farm manager for the Nisqually Tribe.

During the shellfish growing season from March to October, tribal natural resources staff sample seawater weekly at designated sites. Additional sites across Puget Sound are monitored for toxin-producing algae by various citizen beach watchers, shellfish farmers, educational institutions and state government agencies. The monitoring results are posted in an online database.

The SoundToxins program helps narrow down the places where shellfish should be sampled for toxins, which is more expensive and time-consuming than testing the water.

“Just because we find algae that produce toxins doesn’t necessarily mean there are toxins in the seafood, but it could mean there will be soon,” said Stillaguamish marine and shellfish biologist Franchesca Perez. “If high numbers of an HAB species are found, then a sample of the water is sent to SoundToxins for further analysis, and appropriate parties are contacted to protect consumers and growers. We also look for Heterosigma, a flagellated plankton that causes fish kills.”

The Stillaguamish Tribe is sampling Kayak Point in Port Susan. Nisqually is monitoring the water at Johnson Point in Olympia, and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is taking its samples from the dock at Sequim Bay State Park, a popular shellfish harvesting site.

“Sequim Bay has had a number of harmful algal blooms historically,” said Neil Harrington, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe environmental biologist. “When we see the phytoplankton cells increase in the water column, we know to start increasing shellfish sampling for toxins.”

All three types of plankton that cause HABs in Puget Sound have been measured at toxic levels in Sequim Bay.

“The SoundToxins program aims to provide sufficient warning of HAB and Vibrio events to enable early or selective harvesting of seafood, thereby minimizing risks to human health and reducing economic losses to Puget Sound fisheries,” said Sound Toxins program director Vera Trainer of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center.

SoundToxins is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Science Center, Washington Sea Grant and the Washington Department of Health.