Q13 FOX Season of Giving

Goosed again? Local beach closes for fecal contamination

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Juanita Beach Closure

KIRKLAND, Wash. — A popular Kirkland beach is closed for the second time in three years due to high levels of fecal bacteria.

Officials closed Juanita Beach Park after discovering high levels of fecal coliform bacteria in Lake Washington near the park, Kirkland Parks and Community Services Spokesperson Jason Filan said.

The beach will be closed at least through the weekend, and more follow-up testing will be done Monday to determine the source of the bacteria.

The cause is likely non-human in origin, Filan said.

Jauanita Beach Park closed in 2015 for seven weeks. The bacteria provider then?

Geese, said Doug Williams with the King County Department of Natural Resources.

“A lot of goose poop causes a spike,” Williams said.

It’s too early to tell for sure if this week’s closure is related to geese feces, Williams said. Outflows from leaky septic systems and even too much raccoon dung can cause fecal bacteria build-up.

Juanita Beach is the first King County beach to close more than once in the past five years due to fecal contamination, Williams said. Because it’s a sheltered cove, that area of Lake Washington may not filter as well as open parts of the lake.

“Geography and topography have a big impact on what the lake operates like,” Williams said.

Here’s a list of King County Beaches closed because of fecal coliform bacteria in recent years, and the time they were closed:

2016:

Hidden Lake Beach – 8 weeks

Marina Park Beach – 2 weeks

2015:

Juanita Beach – 7 weeks

Newcastle Beach – 1 week

2014:

Matthews Beach – 1 week

Gene Coulon Beach – 3 weeks

Lake Wilderness Beach – 1 week

Houghton Beach – 1 week

No beaches were closed in 2013 or 2012

Curt Hart, a spokesperson with the Washington State Department of Ecology, said we’re seeing fewer closures on state saltwater beaches this year than normal because it’s been so dry. After big rains, clogged stormwater runoff can create a backlog of fecal bacteria on the shores.

But with only one beach closed in the Puget Sound, the dry weather has meant little stormwater.

“We’ve been so dry, we have few beach closures,” Hart said.

A list of state beaches currently closed is available on the Washington State Department of Ecology’s website.