Limited notice of beach closure
The state Department of Ecology issued a beach closure at Lighthouse Park on Aug. 30, but no signs were posted in Mukilteo until Aug. 31.
That one-day delay has some councilmembers concerned about the city’s involvement with the DOE’s beach notifications.
High levels of bacteria had been found in the water due to nearby stormwater pipe discharge. Fecal bacteria counts have gone down since then. The beach opened for swimming on Sept. 4.
Contact with contaminated water can cause upper respiratory infections, stomach flu, skin rashes and ear infections. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.
There is no record of swimmers getting sick from swimming at Mukilteo’s beach.
Five beaches in Everett were closed after the flooding of several sewage systems on Aug. 29 with the rains. Storm drains were overrun, and potentially contaminated water ended up in the Snohomish River and, eventually, Puget Sound.
The city of Everett posted signs at each of the beaches to warn swimmers about the bacteria.
The one sign posted by the DOE in Mukilteo “was in a place nobody could see it,” said Councilmember Steve Schmalz.
Schmalz said he went to Lighthouse Park to warn parents to keep their kids out of the water. He said he saw several kids swimming in the Sound on Aug. 31.
“There wasn’t enough notification or signage on the beach when the beach was closed,” Schmalz said. “The city should have their own signs.”
City staff received a notification from the DOE about the beach closure, but didn’t post any signs or notices on the city website. Schmalz found out about Mukilteo’s beach closure on Facebook.
Schmalz said city staff should be more proactive about notifying swimmers of beach closures. He would like to see staff post warning signs – and maybe even test the water themselves.
“This is a public health issue, and we should notify the public when they are at risk,” he said. “We should do our part to get the information out.”
Public Works Director Rob McGaughey said that the city will help the DOE post additional signs for beach closures and advisories from now on.
“We didn’t help out, but in the future we will,” he said.