Bacteria levels on the rise

July 15, 2003

June Casagrande

A reprieve from high bacteria levels in the waters around Newport

Island has proved to be brief.

City water quality officials think they have found the reason why

bacteria levels in these West Newport channels have shot up after a

year of marked decreases. The problem may lie in the sponge-like

devices that are part of the storm drain filters, Asst. City Manager


Dave Kiff said. Antibacterial filter devices should be in the

filters, he said.

"We think we may not have used the correct filter media," Kiff


When the antibacterial inserts were used last year, the waters in

the bay around Newport Island at Channel Place Park and near 43rd

Street dropped to below state minimums for the first time ever. Now

that water-quality tests show bacteria levels on the rise, city

workers will insert new antibacterial devices into the storm drain

filters in hopes of recreating last year's success.

"We're frustrated," said Councilman Tod Ridgeway, who serves on

the city's Coastal/Bay Water Quality Citizens Advisory Committee.

If the new filter devices don't fix the problem, he said, there

aren't many options left for improving water quality in the area.

"Newport Island is up at the far end of the bay and it doesn't get

adequate flushing," Ridgeway said. "Long term, it may be that the

only way to ultimately fix it is by getting a flushing pipe out to

the ocean. That's a couple-million-dollar fix."

The bad water-quality news for West Newport channels came with

some good news: Waters at Dunes Lagoon continue to get a clean bill

of health.

Since the city installed a storm drain diversion, sending nearby

runoff into the sewer system instead of the storm drain, the Dunes

Lagoon has enjoyed low bacteria levels in the water.

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