Cline Spit closed to swimming

High concentrations of enterococcus bacteria, which is found in the feces of warm-blooded creatures, were found.

SEQUIM — The waters off Cline Spit Beach were closed to swimming and wading Tuesday because of high bacterial concentrations found during testing Monday.

The Clallam County Department of Health and Human Services closed the beach because of high concentrations of enterococcus bacteria, which is found in the feces of warm-blooded creatures, including humans.

The beach, which incorporates about 240 feet of tidelands a half-mile west of Dungeness Landing County Park, will be closed to recreational water use at least through next Tuesday after the next round of testing, said Sue Waldrip, environmental health specialist.

Weekly sampling

The beach closure will remain in effect until retests of the water show satisfactory water quality. Testing is part of a weekly sampling program.

“We don’t know the cause” of the high concentrations of bacteria, Waldrip said.

The bacteria could have been deposited in the water by birds or seals, or other warm-blooded animals, or from a boat dumper, she said.

It also could originate from a septic system, “although we don’t know of any septic failures in the area,” Waldrip said.

The most likely cause is simply warmer weather and warmer water, according to Waldrip.

Contact with fecal-contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses, she said. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

First time this year

The closure due to bacteria is the first time this year for Cline Spit or any other beaches in Clallam County, Waldrip said.

“We’ve had really good samples up until this week,” she said.

Last summer, Cline Spit was closed Aug. 14 because of high levels of enterococcus bacteria. It was reopened Aug. 21. The origin of the bacteria was unknown.

Hollywood Beach was closed twice last summer because of bacteria, the origin of which also was unknown.

It has tested clean this summer.

For questions about the advisory, contact Clallam County Health and Human Services’ Environmental Health Section at 360-417-2334.

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