Susan Buckley, RN, Director, Public Health
Ira Singh, MPH, Deputy Director
Donald I. Baird, MD, Health Officer

Division of Environmental Health


Date Released: 11/9/2006
Subject: Public Health Warning Issued for Clam, Moonstone, Luffenholtz and Trinidad Beaches
Contact: Harriet Hill, REHS, Environmental Health Division
Phone: (707) 445-6215

The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Environmental Health Division is notifying recreational users of Clam, Moonstone, Luffenholtz, and Trinidad Beaches to take precautions to avoid contact with ocean water near the mouth of the rivers and creeks, and in the rivers and creeks themselves. Due to high bacterial levels in the water, the Department has posted signs warning surfers, swimmers and others to stay at least 50 yards away from the mouth or opening of Strawberry Creek, Little River, Luffenholtz Creek, and Mill Creek, and not wade or swim in these creeks or rivers. Water quality testing indicates that the state health standards for Enterococcus faecalis, fecal coliform and total coliform/fecal coliform were exceeded this week at these beaches.

Enterococcus, total coliform and fecal coliform are types of “indicator” bacteria whose presence often is associated with that of disease-causing bugs. These indicator bacteria do not usually cause illness in swimmers. However, their presence indicates that the water is likely contaminated with other bacteria, and viruses that are a health risk to human health. Indicator bacteria are routinely monitored because they are easier to grow in the lab than most of the harmful small organisms found in water.

DHHS is currently re-sampling the water at all four beaches. The warning signs will be removed as soon as results show that state water quality standards have been met. As a routine precaution, DHHS recommends that people not swim or surf in creeks, rivers or within 100 yards of any river or creek mouth for 3 days after a rainstorm. Rain water carries pollutants and contaminants from the land into water bodies, especially after the first big storms of the season.

Community members can take many steps to help prevent creek and ocean water contamination. Conserving water, reducing runoff, maintaining septic systems, properly disposing of pet waste and boat waste, fixing car leaks, recycling used motor oil, planting landscapes instead of paving them, and minimizing fertilizer and pesticide use are some recommended measures.

Weekly water quality data for the beaches monitored by the Environmental Health Division is posted on the Humboldt County website at: The website also has more detail on pollution prevention measures, and a complete record of water quality data for the beach monitoring program. For further information, please contact the Environmental Health Division at 707-445-6215


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