The Oregon Beach Monitoring Program (OMRP) is beginning a formal process to adopt a new “beach action value” (BAV) that would be used beginning in the 2017 monitoring season.  The BAV is used to determine when public health advisories should be issued for beaches.  Up till now, the threshold for advisories has been 158 MPN. (This stands for “most probable number,” and for beach water quality monitoring purposes is the measure of bacteria per 100 milliliter.  It is a technique for quantifying entities that are very difficult to count.  If you want a better explanation than that, find a microbiologist who is married to a statistician.)  

The new proposed threshold would be 70 MPN.  At less than half the concentration of bacteria, this is obviously more sensitive, and would thus trigger warnings at lower levels.  It is recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which funds the OMRP.  Studies suggest that exposure to bacteria levels below 158 MPN may still cause gastrointestinal illnesses from accidental ingestion of water during recreational activities.  Additional information about OBMP’s adopting process is available online.
In a parallel process, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is revising Oregon’s water quality standard for bacteria based on the EPA’s latest recommendations More information about DEQ’s rule-making process is available on their webpage.
DEQ and the Oregon Public Health Division will host four public meetings in late October to present the changes and solicit feedback on beaches to monitor in 2017.  (Enough money isn’t available to monitor every beach, so public advice on which beaches are most important to monitor in terms of potential public health threats is important.)  Here are the places and times for the meetings:

South Coast:  Tuesday, Oct. 20, Marshfield High School, S. 10th and Ingersoll St., Coos
    Bay, Heritage Hall, 6-9 p.m.

Mid-Coast:  Wednesday, Oct. 21, Hatfield Marine Science Center, 2030 S.E. Marine
    Science Dr., Newport, Multi-use Room, 6-9 p.m.

North Coast:  Thursday, Oct. 22, Chamber of Commerce Community Hall, 207 N. Spruce
    Cannon Beach, 6-9 p.m.

Metro Area:  Thursday, Oct. 29, DEQ Headquarter, 811 S.W. 6th Ave., Portland, EQC-A
    (10th floor), 4-6 p.m.

For more information about the OMRP, contact Tara Chetock, (971) 673-1496,
tara.a.chetock”>’>  Contact her also if you would like to be placed on the list for notification about water quality sampling results next year.   

For more information or questions about DEQ’s rule-making process, contact Aron Borok, borok.aron”>’>, (503) 229-5050 (toll-free in Oregon at 800-452-4011), ext. 5050.

This is the final week of beach water quality sampling for the 2015 season.  Routine sampling will begin again next May.