Environment Oregon Research & Policy Center releases revised report on water pollution at beaches

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Little changes in Oregon results; new version addresses queries in other states, national data

Environment Oregon Research & Policy Center

Following questions raised about data in the original version of our “Safe for Swimming?” report, released Tuesday June 23, Environment Oregon Research & Policy announced that, following a reanalysis of testing results for fecal bacteria in waters off Oregon beaches, data in Oregon remained substantially the same.

The revised report did find that sampling sites at Sunset Bay State Park were shown to have fewer potentially unsafe days than originally reported.

Nevertheless, the reassessment showed data errors in other states that affected the national numbers. Frontier Group has corrected those mistakes for this revision. In addition, the report includes reordered lists of beaches in Oregon and elsewhere that reflect a more robust method of breaking “ties” among beaches with the same number of potentially unsafe days.

“We made mistakes last week, and we’re deeply sorry for that and the confusion that those errors caused,” said Frontier Group Managing Director Susan Rakov, whose group did the report’s analysis on behalf of Environment Oregon Research & Policy Center. “As a research group with more than two decades of experience, we take pride in our track record of accuracy and clarity, but we did not live up to our standards. We are also grateful to those who reached out to us with the concerns that led us to correct the errors.”   

Frontier Group released a more detailed statement on its website.

Despite these changes, the report’s overall findings remained the same: Be careful at your local beach this summer because it might not be safe to go in the water. The report includes several recommendations to prevent bacterial pollution and keep our beaches safe for swimming. Rain barrels, rooftop gardens, permeable pavement and urban green space can all absorb stormwater runoff and prevent sewage overflows. Congress is now considering legislation to increase funding for such “green infrastructure” projects through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

“We take our role as an organization dedicated to protecting the places we love and advancing the environmental values we share very seriously,” said Environment Oregon Research & Policy Center’s State Director Celeste Meiffren-Swango. “Every Oregonian should be able to go to the beach and swim without worrying about the water’s impact on their health or that of their children and we remain firmly committed to that goal.”