Surfrider water samplers this past weekend came back with a doozy of a water report from the mouth of Big Creek that pours into Agate Beach. It came in at a very high number. Anything over 100 is considered to be unacceptable. The sample came in last weekend at nearly 12 times as high for organic pollutants. In recent years, it’s been a number that follows major storms and downpours. In addition to many unseen sewer and storm drain water co-minglings, there are lots of organics from Yogi Bear and Bambi, gathered by heavy rains and shooting them down the creeks and streams to the beach. These totals tend not to last very long – few days at most – but you can figure you’re more safe by staying away from creek outfalls like Nye Creek that flows onto Nye Beach, Big Creek that flows onto Agate Beach, Schooner Creek and so on.
The city is on a big sewer and storm drain upgrade program that will take a number of years to complete. But even then there’s no guarantee that there won’t be spikes every now and then when the “native animal excretal offerings” start showing up. Along the Oregon Coast it’s generally a good idea to NOT play in the creeks where they empty out onto a beach or estuary. As a general rule, a hundred yards left or right of the creek outfall and you should be good to play. The greatest risk of being exposed to bacteria laden water at a stream outfall is right after a rain – especially a heavy rain.