Fecal Coliform levels at Golden Gardens Creek mis-reported

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!)

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

22 thoughts to “Fecal Coliform levels at Golden Gardens Creek mis-reported”

  1. The next time Surfrider is caught taking water from a public stream for any reason they should be cited for violation of the State Water Rights Act which prohibits any diversion or taking of public waters.

    Let’s have them pay a few thousdand in fines for stupidity and their later willfull deceit and coverup.

  2. I don’t think there’s any reason to read malice into what Surfrider did here. They screwed up bad. Sadly, right at the moment I’m kind of glad I’m not a member; I considered signing up a while back. They do good work.

    But they thought they were warning the public of a legitimate problem. Obviously they must have believed what they reported earlier, because if they knew they were reporting incorrect information they would have known it’d come to light sooner or later.

  3. Check them out on Wikipedia. Google “surfrider accomplishments”. They’ve done a lot to keep coastal waters clean, all around the world.

    They’re not douchebags. They’re /generally/ not incompetent, either, though they seem to have made an exception in this case.

  4. At least Surfrider owned up to their mistake.

    I am wondering though, where all of the nervous, uptight Seattleites will now point their collective hand-wringing…

  5. what’s ‘bad’ is that they had full knowledge that their report was wrong two weeks ago, and didn’t have the integrity to come out and say so…not until they were called out on it.

    zero transparency and accountability…surprise, surprise.

  6. Unfortunately, if your research becomes agenda-driven, it’s human nature not to want to report mistakes or results that go against your agenda. It’s a tough pitfall to guard against, as we also saw recently with Climategate.

  7. Good point, Mondoman. A lot of news agencies were lured by the idea of a big story about malfeasance among climate researchers. They got those stars in their eyes and didn’t bother to check the facts and find out that there was almost no “there” there.

  8. I actually AM a member of Surfrider (not an active one) and saw the initial efforts to form the Blue Water Task Force that was doing this work. It’s pretty much all earnest non-scientists who are volunteers and new to this kind of work.

    Heck, I even considered participating and collecting water or counting lab samples when the request for help went out. Like the person above, whew, now i’m glad I didn’t, although I feel a little lame saying that! ;)

    But I truly believe this was not any kind of intentional mistake but rather the result of a rather loose and new volunteer setup, and insufficient training/understanding.

  9. This was a Seattle Chapter screw up. They need to proofread better and to actually LEARN what all those numbers and categories mean. Surfrider has been an excellent organization and helped bring to light pollution, negligence and corruption in communities around the world helping to make the water swimmable in many areas. Seattle Chapter needs to get their act together.

  10. Motorrad, I totally concur. When I first joined I was really excited about participating in Surfrider initiatives — after a few meetings I realized that things really weren’t being run well enough, even for a volunteer org. That said, a lot of the ground level volunteers trying to get this going had good hearts. I think they just needed a lot more training and support from the regional staff.

  11. Bomb throwers. One of these days more people will actually wake up and see that the BS from the left, such as taxing ourselves into prosperity, is a hoax. Mommy erf is alive and quite well.

  12. What a bunch of adolescents. If they want to be respected they need to behave like adults.

    They didn’t.

    And now there’s a huge neon banner on tons of sites illustrating just how amateur they are.

    Do these losers have any PR people or are they all just stoned drop-outs?

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