Tacoma beach closed due to high levels of bacteria

Photo courtesy of parks.wa.gov

SEATTLE -- The beach at Dash Point Park in Tacoma has been closed due to high Entrococcus bacteria levels. The high level of this type of bacteria indicates the presence of raw sewage in the water, and greatly increases the risk of gastrointestinal illness for anyone who swims in or ingests the water, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department said. The bacteria counts at Dash Point were 10 times higher than the level the department uses to determine when to close marine beaches.

The Health Department said no one should enter the water or participate in any activities that would expose bare skin to the water or create a risk of ingesting the water. Anyone fishing should wear waders and the department said that thorough washing of fish caught at the park is safe for eating after cooking. All fishing equipment should also be thoroughly washed after exposure to the water.

“We don’t know the cause of the high bacteria counts, but it may have been from a sewage spill, one or more failing septic systems in close proximity, or a boater dumping untreated wastewater," Ray Hanowell, environmental health specialist, said.

The department collected additional water samples Wednesday to further investigate the extent of the problem. The closure will continue until the health department’s follow-up water quality testing shows the level of bacteria to be at safe levels.