High levels of bacteria were detected at more than a dozen western Washington beaches ahead of Fourth of July weekend prompting closures and warnings for beachgoers.
The Washington State Department of Ecology issued a no-contact advisory Friday for 10 beaches in King, Jefferson, Mason and Thurston counties. People should avoid swimming or touching the water at those beaches.
Affected beaches include:
- Irondale Beach Park
- Point Whitney Tidelands
- Saltwater State Park
- Redondo County Park
- Des Moines Beach Park
- Carkeek Park
- Potlatch State Park
- Twanoh State Park
- Belfair State Park
- Burfoot County Park
The advisories come after King County closed three swimming beaches on lakes due to high levels of bacteria. Juanita Beach and Newcastle Beach on Lake Washington are closed in addition to Lake Wilderness Beach in Maple Valley.
Des Moines Beach Park, which closed June 22 after a sewage spill, has reopened. However, a swimming advisory is in place.
Ecology said the recent heat wave, which brought record-breaking temperatures of 108 degrees to the region, is likely to blame for the increased bacteria. Shallow areas in Puget Sound were as warm as 70 degrees, which is 13 degrees above normal, and the heat acted like an incubator for bacteria, according to Laura Hermanson, Ecology’s BEACH program manager.
The department said more people hitting the beach to cool off could have contributed, too. Pet poop can contribute to fecal bacteria growth.
Swimming in waters with high bacteria levels can cause various symptoms like upper respiratory infections and skin rashes.