10 • 06 • 2015

What’s causing high bacteria readings in Cannon Beach, Oregon?

By Mara Dias

Armed with a season's worth of water quality data, Surfrider and our local partners in the Ecola Creek Watershed Council are asking the City of Cannon Beach to work with us to poinpoint the source of pollution that has caused several high readings of bacteria over the past summer.  Read local media coverage of these efforts here:

The North Coast Blue Water Task Force program, re-energized with new support and leadership made possible by grant funding from the Oregon Community Foundation, has been sampling the stormwater outfall that discharges onto the beach at Gower Street and in the surfzone out front since the beginning of May.  View their results here. 

Several high readings at the beach even during dry weather this summer indicate that there may be problems with the City's infrastructure that need to be fixed.  Compounding these potential problems, is that the City of Cannon Beach stopped its water quality testing program in July, and staff from the Oregon Beach Monitoring Program were not available to re-test and confirm results when Surfrider detected high bacteria levels this summer.  This left the public unaware of the problems that were occuring in the shallow discharge that flows across the beach from the Gower Street Outfall. 

Surfrider and the Watershed Council are asking for the City to test their sewer and stormwater infrastructure to rule out human sources, similar to the smoke and dye testing that have been performed in Newport which ultimately led the City to find and fix several misconnects into their stormwater system and improved water quality at the beach.  Read more about Surfrider's success to work collaboratively with the City of Newport in this case study.

Surfrider is hopeful that a similar collaborative approach can be successful in Cannon Beach to both better inform and protect public health and to support clean water at the beach and in our coastal watersheds.