Clean, Safe Water for Swimming, Recreation Through Much of Weekend

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Photo by Heather Haffner.

The following appeared on Anne Arundel Patch earlier today.

Continued dry weather is keeping our swimming areas cleaner and safer than they've been all summer! And the good news is it looks like that could continue through much of Labor Day weekend. 

Only four private swimming areas in the mid-county region tested unsafe because of high bacteria counts this week: 

SOUTH RIVER

Glen Isle – 544

Pine Whiff – 198

Spring Lake/Beards Creek – 116

RHODE RIVER

Cadle Creek Community Dock – 216 

The acceptable level of enterococci bacteria is 104 or fewer bacteria colonies per 100 milliliters of water.

Enterococci are bacteria that are found in the GI tract of warm-blooded animals, which includes all birds and mammals.  Their presence in surface water indicates recent contamination with fecal waste. 

Rainwater washes contaminants such as dog waste, waste from leaking septics and wildlife waste from the landscape. Heavy rains also cause occasional sewage overflows and spills that also contribute bacteria.

Both the county health department and a network of volunteers test more than 100 public beaches and other areas around the county for bacteria. The results from the county tests are put online here, and for the volunteer tests here for Severn and Magothy rivers, here for South River, and here for Rhode/West River. All the sites listed above were tested by Watershed Stewards

Operation Clearwater volunteers who test many private swimming areas on the Severn and Magothy rivers did not report their findings this week. 

Tests, which usually are conducted mid-week, are really most useful for only a few days. Water quality can improve or degrade fairly quickly depending on whether it has rained. For that reason the county health department cautions residents to avoid swimming or direct contact with any "natural" water (swimming pools don't count) for 48 hours after a rain of ½ inch or more. 

—Tom Zolper, CBF's Maryland Communications Coordinator


High Bacteria Readings for Local Waters


Mc swimming 8-17-12 008Four swim areas in Rhode River tested unsafe for bacteria this week, with water at the Whitemarsh Community Dock and Beach six times above safe levels. That’s somewhat surprising since it was a relatively dry week. Sorry Whitemarsh bathers. Take precautions.

Otherwise, most swim areas throughout Anne Arundel County were healthy and safe to swim, judging by bacteria monitoring.

For the first time this summer I have listed (below) high bacteria readings for upstream and midstream testing sites on Mill Creek and Dividing Creek on the Magothy River. These creeks traditionally test very high for bacteria, for unknown reasons. The area closest to the Magothy this week had safe readings but upstream levels were high.  One of my good friends lives midstream on Mill Creek and says she still swims despite the creek’s history. You go, girl.

Remember, though, the county health department and Maryland Department of Environmental caution bathers not to swim for 48 hours after a rain storm of half-inch or more. So regardless of test results this week, if we get rain this weekend, you might want to stay out of the water.

Swim areas with unsafe bacteria levels this week:

SEVERN

Oyster Harbor – 324

MAGOTHY

Forked Creek - 166

Mill Creek (upstream) - 1000

Mill Creek (midstream) – 312

Dividing Creek (upstream) – 980

SOUTH

Glen Isle – 384

Londontowne Beach 5 - 110

Pine Whiff – 136

Davidsonville Wildlife Sanctuary – 180

RHODE

Whitemarsh Community Dock and Beach – 686

Riverclub Community Dock and Beach - 204

Holly Hills - 130

Cadle Creek Community Dock – 130

WEST

Galesville Pier – 106

Enterococci counts are expressed as cfu or colony-forming units.  Greater than 104 cfu/100 ml are considered elevated bacteria levels.

Enterococci are bacteria that are found in the GI tract of warm-blooded animals, which includes all birds and mammals.  Their presence in surface water indicates recent contamination with fecal waste.       

Both the county health department and a network of volunteers test over 100 public beaches and other areas around the county for bacteria. The results from the county tests are put online here, and for the volunteer tests here for Severn and Magothy rivers, here for South River, and here for Rhode/West River.  All the sites listed above were tested by Watershed Stewards.

Rain washes human and animal waste from the landscape. For that reason, county and state officials warn residents not to swim or come into contact with water for 48 hours after a significant rain.

Bacteria that is ingested can cause an upset stomach. In some cases more harmful bacteria coming into contact with open wounds can cause serious infection.

Have fun, stay safe!

—Tom Zolper, CBF's Maryland Communications Coordinator


Bad Water at Oyster Harbor, Londontown

 The following appeared on AnnapolisPatch yesterday.

 Beach warning signs

A sign posted by the State Dept. of Health warns people against bathing or wading after high bacteria levels were discovered in the water. One young couple was particularly disappointed after packing for an afternoon of surf fishing. Photo by Andrea Moran/CBF Staff.


Variable thunderstorms, or possibly other reasons, made for pockets of very unhealthy water around the region this week. With the same weather pattern expected to continue today and tomorrow, remember to avoid contact with our local creeks and rivers for 48 hours if a significant storm hits your locale.

Oyster Harbor on the Chesapeake Bay had bacteria readings 13 times what is healthy, according to water monitoring tests on Wednesday by volunteers.

Bacteria levels on the South River in the Londontown area were ten times the healthy limits.

Those readings could have been the result of a heavy down pour in those areas earlier in the week. Rain washes human and animal waste laden with bacteria into area water. Poop from waterfowl also could have spiked bacteria levels.

Here’s the areas that had readings above safe levels. Click here for a Google map of these areas.

CHESAPEAKE BAY

Beverly Beach – 141*

Oyster Harbor - 1352

SEVERN

Carrollton Manor/Hillbottom Beach – 146

Olde Severna Park Drainage Ditch – 850

MAGOTHY

Cape St. Clair/Lake Claire – 329*

Mill Creek – 360

Dividing Creek – 450

SOUTH RIVER

Lontontown/Midland – 1008*

Pine Wiff/Almshouse Creek – 174

South River Manor/Broad Creek – 174

RHODE RIVER

High Island – 354

Camp Letts – 124

Holly Hills/Bear Neck Creek – 114

WEST RIVER

Westelee/South Creek – 118

*Tested by county monitors. All others by volunteers

The acceptable level for swimming and other direct water contact is determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Maryland Department of the Environment and the Anne Arundel County Department of Health. For bodies of water that the Department samples weekly and biweekly, the acceptable level of enterococci bacteria is 104 or fewer bacteria colonies per 100 milliliters of water. For areas that are sampled monthly, the acceptable level is 158 or fewer colonies per 100 milliliters. See Water Quality Fact Sheet. All the spots on the list above exceed safety levels.

Both the county health department and a network of volunteers test over 100 public beaches and other areas around the county for bacteria. The results from the county tests are put online here, and for the volunteer tests here for Severn and Magothy rivers, here for South River, and here for Rhode/West River.  All the sites listed above were tested by Watershed Stewards.

Bacteria that is ingested can cause an upset stomach. In some cases more harmful bacteria coming into contact with open wounds can cause serious infection.

Remember, water quality can improve or worsen significantly within days of water tests, depending on rain fall. Sites tested on Wednesday can be cleaner if the weather stays dry. Additionally, your local beach may have tested fine on Wednesday but could be unhealthy by the weekend if a thunderstorm moved through late in the week.

Have fun, stay safe.

—Tom Zolper

 Read our Annapolis water quality testing blog series.

 


Welcome Rain also Brings Curse of Bad Swimming Conditions

The following appeared on AnnapolisPatch yesterday.

Stormwater
Waves of the Chesapeake Bay break against a stormwater outfall that runs from the Ocean View beachfront directly into the Chesapeake Bay at Norfolk, Virginia. Photo by © 2010 Morgan Heim/iLCP.


Spotty thunder storms earlier this week washed enough pollution into some area creeks and rivers to make for unsafe swimming and other recreational activities. Click here for a Google map of the bad water spots.

 

Overall, dry weather continues in Anne Arundel County, keeping many public swimming areas and creeks and rivers healthy enough for summer fun.

But weather reports as of Friday show a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms Saturday and Sunday so all bets are off when that happens. Runoff from storms carries human and animal waste into nearby streams, spiking bacteria levels. County and state officials caution not to come into contact with water for 48 hours after a significant storm.

So here’s the list of places around the area where storms hit and raised bacteria levels this week. Remember, the water tests were conducted Wednesday, so bacteria levels are likely to have fallen by the weekend – UNLESS more thunderstorms roll through. Again click here if you want to look at the Google map of the places:

SEVERN RIVER

Old Severna Park -728

Hopkins Creek – 264

Brown’s Pond – 300

Back Creek – 112

Bembe Beach – 298

MAGOTHY RIVER

Mill Creek – 1404

Dividing Creek – 900

SOUTH RIVER

Pine Wiff – 188

Wilelinor – 140

RHODE RIVER

Holly Hills – 238

The acceptable level for swimming and other direct water contact is determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Maryland Department of the Environment and the Anne Arundel County Department of Health. For bodies of water that the Department samples weekly and biweekly, the acceptable level of enterococci bacteria is 104 or fewer bacteria colonies per 100 milliliters of water. For areas that are sampled monthly, the acceptable level is 158 or fewer colonies per 100 milliliters. See Water Quality Fact Sheet. All the spots on the list above exceed safety levels.

Both the county health department and a network of volunteers test over 100 public beaches and other areas around the county for bacteria. The results from the county tests are put online here, and for the volunteer tests here for Severn and Magothy rivers, here for South River, and here for Rhode/West River.  All the sites listed above were tested by Watershed Stewards.

Have fun, stay safe.

—Tom Zolper
Maryland Communications Coordinator
Chesapeake Bay Foundation