Swimmers at Purdy Spit cool off on a hot day. Photo by Ron Cameron, Special to KP News

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has lifted the “no swimming” advisory for the Purdy Sandspit. Officials at the health department said water quality conditions are again safe for swimming and other water recreation activities.

Recent water samples collected by the Health Department as part of the Marine BEACH sampling program have shown good water quality at the Purdy Sandspit. Also, water samples collected by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) just off of the Purdy Sandspit have shown good results.

“Since June we have been sampling the beaches at Purdy and other public marine swimming beaches on a weekly basis and had several successive good sample results including July 19,” said Jim Hoyle, environmental health specialist for Pierce County.

Of the seven identified failing septic systems that were contaminating the waters, four have been repaired, one is posted “do not occupy” while the owner decides what he wants to do, and two have a temporary fix, are capped and used occasionally and have a pumping contract to keep overflow from going on ground or in the bay, he said.

“I think that it must be part of the improvement, no longer any flow we can measure in this area,” Hoyle said.

Though it is subject to change, the advisory is lifted, and Hoyle said the DOH plans to test the waters weekly throughout the summer months, and go to a monthly or bi-monthly schedule for testing in the fall.

The State Health Department still does not allow shellfish harvesting on the public side of the beach, and Wash. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife doesn’t allow harvest because resource is depleted there to support a regular harvest, he said.

“We hope people will continue to look out for signs posted, whether they be shellfish or swimming restriction,” Hoyle said. “We are aware there was use of the beach even when the signs were up.”

The advisory had been in place since October 2008 when a number of failing septic systems were identified or suspected in close proximity to the sandspit. Subsequent testing identified seven failing septic systems. All of the seven sites had numerous constraints and required complicated repairs or new systems.

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