Surfrider.org now says that the earlier release of high levels of fecal coliform numbers at Golden Garden Creek were mis-reported by their organization.
The numbers that made headlines last month were the numbers for all coliform, not specifically the fecal coliform, Surfrider now admits.
Once the city heard of the possible high levels of fecal coliform, temporary signs warning people of the dangers of urban streams were immediately installed. Seattle Public Utilities also tested the water itself and found the levels to be low.
The statement from Surfrider reads:
It is important to note that upon review, we have revised our report on the Seattle Surfrider Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) results.
The Seattle Chapter’s BWTF scientific methods are sound; however, the previous method we employed counted all coliform–versus fecal coliform, and as such was imprecise in measuring fecal matter in streams.
The published coliform counts took into account all possible contributors, which includes but is not limited to fecal coliforms. Some coliforms are not harmful to humans; however some are, and the released results were a combination thereof.
Coliform results are a separate indicator from the posted E. Coli results. Please be assured, the E. Coli results are accurate, and it is important to note that there have been a few high results in the past few months of testing.
While this can all be confusing, the take-away message to recreational users and residents near these urban streams is that they are not altogether safe to recreate in or to ingest. All people and pets that come in contact with these streams should wash immediately afterward. Fecal coliforms and E. Coli are only some of many pathogens often found in urban streams that can be harmful to humans.
Surfrider Foundation’s Seattle Chapter is working with Seattle Public Utilities and DOH and will continue testing these locations to supplement locations where the City has not yet placed testing resources. We will be sending our bi-weekly results to all interested parties from here forward, so when a problem arises we all have corresponding information.
Signage will be developed in cooperation with the parks department, as the current signage is not child-friendly. Surfrider Seattle would also like to point out that as a chapter, we did not approach the media with these test results. In fact, we simply sent a message to our members warning them of the possible dangers of playing in these streams; this message was transmitted independently by private parties. Surfrider Seattle is a volunteer group working in partnership with the City of Seattle and King County in order to try to make sure the public has clean streams in which to play, and the volunteer citizen science group is interested in continuing to test in concert with SPU and King County.
The most recent results from testing at Golden Gardens Creek can be found here. Testing at other Seattle locations including Golden Gardens (Puget Sound), Carkeek Park stream and Carkeek Park (Puget Sound) can be found here. (Thank you Kristin and Daniel for the tip!)