About the Oregon Beach Monitoring Program

The Oregon Beach Monitoring Program (OBMP) monitors selected Oregon coastal recreation waters for the presence of fecal bacteria, and reports elevated levels to the public. The OBMP is funded by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, is administered by the Department of Human Services and collaborates with Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

What Does the OBMP Monitor?

The Oregon Beach Monitoring Program tests marine waters for the bacterium enterococcus, which is an indicator of the presence of other illness-causing organisms.

Enterococcus has been shown to have a greater correlation in marine waters with swimming-associated illnesses than other bacterial organisms. Enterococcus is present in human and animal waste and can enter marine waters from a variety of sources such as streams and creeks, storm water runoff, animal and seabird waste, failing septic systems, sewage treatment plant spills, or boating waste.

What Happens when Elevated Bacteria Levels Are Detected ?

If the test results for a beach are at or above 158 organisms per 100 milliliters of marine water, an advisory will be issued immediately and signage posted at the beach in question. The advisory discourages water contact.

The advisory and the sign(s) will remain in place until additional testing indicates that enterococcus levels have decreased to less than 158 organisms per 100ml marine water.

How Can Beach Water Make People Sick?

People can get sick when they swim in waters containing pathogens from human and animal waste. Various kinds of pathogens, or disease-causing micro-organisms, can be found in water, including:

  • viruses that can cause hepatitis and gastroenteritis -- flu-like symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, headache, and fever;
  • bacteria that can also cause gastroenteritis as well as cholera, typhoid fever, pink eye, eye and ear infections; and
  • amoeba and protozoa that can cause giardiasis, dysentery, and skin rashes.

These organisms rarely threaten human life, however they can lead to discomfort and can cause illness. Also, these diseases can be more dangerous for children, elderly persons, and persons with weakened immune systems.

For more information about the Oregon Beach Monitoring Program, contact 971-673-0431 or visit: http://www.healthoregon.org/beach


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