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Sandy Point Beach Health Advisories For Indefinite Time Period

Anne Arundel County Department of Health, Maryland Department of the Environment and Maryland Department of Natural Resources Work Together To Investigate Cause of High Bacterial Levels

(Annapolis - August 17, 2006) - The Anne Arundel County Department of Health, in consultation with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), has issued precautionary health advisories against direct water contact for the East and South Beaches of Sandy Point State Park for an indefinite time period.

Routine monitoring at both beaches has detected short-term episodes of unexplained high bacterial levels. The advisories will remain in effect while County and State agencies collaboratively investigate beach and water conditions in order to identify factors causing the unprecedented fluctuation in bacterial levels observed since July 27, 2006.

"I applaud the State agencies for stepping in with new resources to investigate and correct this problem," said Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens. "I hope there will be a prompt resolution so everyone can enjoy the Bay, but identifying the cause of the contamination is paramount," she added.

"One of MDE’s key initiatives is to help local governments implement water quality requirements. MDE is working with the local health departments through our Maryland Beaches Program to enhance beach water quality monitoring," explains Rich Eskin, Director of MDE’s Technical and Regulatory Services Administration. "Based on our preliminary investigation and our cooperative follow-up water testing, it appears to be a localized problem. We are exploring all potential pollution sources."

The Department of Health usually lifts an advisory after two consecutive days of water samples are at acceptable levels for recreational water contact, based on standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and MDE. The Sandy Point advisories will remain in effect until public notification from the Department of Health.

Anne Arundel County Health Officer Frances Phillips said, "We are maintaining current restrictions against direct water contact as a precautionary measure to protect the health of swimmers at Sandy Point’s beaches. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be involved with an intensive and comprehensive effort to find the causes of the intermittent high bacterial levels affecting the beaches. Once the investigation has been completed and all sources have been evaluated, a plan for corrective action can be developed."

The investigation will include:

  • Expanding the water sampling to more areas along the beaches’ shoreline to look for possible sources such as on-site wastewater leaks and failing septic systems. The Department of Health’s routine water monitoring program at the East and South Beach sampling stations will continue throughout the investigation.
  • Conducting a thorough analysis of the water quality data and the factors that could potentially impact water test results such as tidal action, weather conditions and waterfowl.

The precautionary health advisories warn against swimming, water skiing, jet skiing, windsurfing, kayaking and other direct water contact.

"The park is still open to walking trails, fishing and crabbing, boat rentals, sunbathing, shelter rentals, a playground, picnicking, and beautiful views of the Chesapeake Bay and the Bay Bridge," said Sandy Point Park Manager Gerry Thompson. "We look forward to welcoming park patrons to Sandy Point to enjoy all of these amenities."


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