LOCAL NEWS

Fewer Lake Washington beaches closed so far this year

Aug 24, 2022, 3:15 PM | Updated: 3:21 pm
(Getty Images)...
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Several beaches along Lake Washington are currently closed due to fecal contamination — but so far, King County’s beaches are doing better than they have during other recent summers in terms of closures.

This summer, there have been 10 closures among seven beaches on Lake Washington. Last year, there were a total of 16 closures, and in 2019, there were 21 closures. Closures tend to last a couple of weeks, on average.

Currently, Meydenbauer and Newcastle Beaches in Bellevue, Gene Coulon Beach in Renton, and Matthews, Madrona, and Howell Park Beaches in Seattle are all closed. The City of Seattle had already closed Madrona Beach to swimming for the season because of a lifeguard shortage.

While Madrona and Howell Park Beaches closed this week because of a sewage spill, the other beaches closed for what is a much more common reason — high bacteria levels detected during routine weekly testing.

10 Puget Sound beaches closed for fecal bacteria

Daniel Nidzgorski, an ecologist with the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, said the bacteria is due to fecal contamination, which usually comes from people, pets, or wildlife, such as ducks and geese near the beach. Closing a beach is something the county does out of extreme caution when the numbers during regular testing get over the safety threshold — but it does not mean that if you were at that beach just before the closure, you will get sick.

“When we’re closing down a beach, if it’s just over thresholds, for example, a person going swimming probably has around a 5% chance of getting sick with a tummy bug,” Nidzgorski said.

Still, it is a good idea to watch for symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or a new rash.

The county tests the water at 28 popular beaches. If you are going swimming at a smaller beach that is not on that list, Nidzgorski recommends looking at your surroundings and smelling the air. If there are a lot of critters about, it might be best to pick a different swimming spot.

“Look right around the beach — often times, there’s a lot of goose and duck poop on the beach, and that’s a pretty obvious culprit. Sometimes there is dog poop around as well,” he said. “So it’s usually something right on or near the beach.”

If you are going swimming a mile down the road from a beach that is closed, it does not mean that your beach is unsafe; but likewise, just because the surrounding beaches are open does not mean that your beach is free of high bacteria levels. That is why it is always a good idea to check your beach for sources of potential contamination.

“Each beach is really independent. We’ve done some studies where we’ve sampled at a beach and found really high bacteria — took another sample two houses down and found really low bacteria, really excellent water quality,” Nidzgorski said.

The contamination tends to come from very local sources, such as a dog or ducks on a single beach.

“Because these problems are usually coming from a small poop source right on or near the beach, they’re not affecting a giant swath of the lake,” Nidzgorski said. “When there’s a sewage spell, those can affect a giant swath, but those are, fortunately, extremely rare.”

Nidzgorski added that there is no evidence the contamination is connected to homeless encampments, because the closed beaches are not near streams that could potentially carry fecal matter in runoff.

“We’ve never had any good evidence that people living unsheltered are causing poop problems at the beach … we’ve never really found a clear problem that we could trace back to an encampment like that, especially not at these swimming beaches,” he said.

To help prevent future problems, it is always a good idea to shower before going to a public swimming area, and to ensure babies and toddlers have well-fitting swim diapers. Additionally, Nidzgorski advises people not to feed geese or ducks along beaches, and to leave Fido and Fluffy at home.

“Most beaches don’t allow [dogs], and even at those that do — you don’t want to bring another poop source to the beach,” he said.

Local News

I-90 Traffic Mess...
Jake Chapman, KIRO 7 News

I-90 traffic woes continue; many furious over construction planning

Traffic has been a nightmare for many in western Washington thisweekend, especially those who attempted to go westbound on Interstate 90.
12 hours ago
Kent shooting...
Deborah Horne, KIRO 7 News

Kent shooting likely a case of domestic violence

A Kent neighborhood is on edge after an argument between two acquaintances ended in gunfire on Saturday morning.
12 hours ago
I-90 shutdown...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Westbound I-90 bridge to Seattle now closed all weekend due to ‘extreme traffic conditions’

WSDOT has now closed all lanes of the westbound I-90 bridge from Mercer Island to Seattle in hope of relieving congestion.
1 day ago
Auburn shooting...
KIRO 7 News Staff

1 dead, 2 injured in drive-by shooting in Auburn

An investigation is underway after one man was killed and two other men were injured in a drive-by shooting Friday night in Auburn.
1 day ago
Generic Cop Lights...
Lisa Brooks

Suspect in Walla Walla trooper shooting held on attempted murder charges

Attempted murder and weapons charges have been filed against 37-year-old Brandon O'Neel of Walla Walla, in connection with Thursday night's shooting of a Washington state Patrol trooper.
1 day ago
Juanita Creek...
Nicole Jennings

Business owner transforms Juanita Creek section for migrating salmon

Cafe Juanita owner and executive chef Holly Smith took it upon herself to transform her portion of Kirkland's Juanita creek -- and give the migrating salmon a healthier highway.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Fewer Lake Washington beaches closed so far this year