‘There’s poop in the water’: King County officials close three beaches for high bacteria counts

KING COUNTY, Wash. — High levels of bacteria forced King County public health officials to close three public beaches just before the Independence Day weekend. The closures are expected to last for at least the next several days.

Juanita Beach Park in Kirkland, Newcastle Beach in Bellevue and Lake Wilderness Beach in Maple Valley were closed Wednesday after scientists from the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks discovered high levels of coliform bacteria, which is related to fecal matter from animals or people in the water.

On the City of Kirkland’s website, a release read: “People and pets should not swim, drink lake water, or engage in other water activities at Juanita Beach.”

“I was really sad, because I love this beach,” said 8-year-old Brooklyn Repka, who came to Juanita Beach Park with her family Thursday.

“We got all of our floaties and everything in the bag and then I was kind of like, ‘Oh wait, does that sign say beach closed?’ Oh, man,” said Brystol Repka.

Scientists from King County’s Department of Natural Resources found very high levels of coliform bacteria, forcing them to close the three beaches for at least two weeks, saying bacteria from animal or human feces in the water could make people and animals sick. The news is a major letdown in hot weather, just before Independence Day weekend.

“I was disappointed,” said Joanna Riley. “Swimming is one of my favorite summer activities.”

Lab workers who test the water realize some people can’t resist temptation to get in the water anyway, so they put the gross-out factor, which you won’t see on the sign, bluntly:

“There’s poop in the water,” said Dr. Daniel Nitzgorski, a scientist for King County’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks. “Most people don’t like to swim in poopy water, because poop carries a lot of different germs.”

Dr. Nitzgorski says any contact with the bacteria in the water could be a major bummer for your body.

“It could be anything from eye, skin, ear, nose and throat (infection), and the most common is the gastrointestinal issues, vomiting, diarrhea — there could even be respiratory issue from that,” he said.

Nitzgorski says dog droppings could add to what comes from geese, and even a loose diaper on a toddler can release coliform. Meanwhile, the Repkas decided to hit another beach, glad they were warned before basically swimming in sewage.

“I don’t want to get sick from that so I’m kind of happy that the sign was there, so we know,” said Brooklyn.