By Greg Ellison
(July 16, 2020) After reports last week that bacteria counts in the St. Martin River next to the Ocean Pines Swim and Racquet Club exceeded EPA safety standards, water sample data from July 8 compiled by Assateague Coastkeeper Kathy Phillips showed that water quality had dropped back to acceptable levels.
Enterococci bacteria tests conducted on July 3 from the river, roughly 50 yards off the Swim and Racquet Club beach resulted in readings of 108.4 per milliliter, which was above EPA guidance that requires an advisory for results above 104 organisms per 100 milliliters.
The numbers improved to 86.6 for the subsequent testing done by the Assateague Coastkeeper that was posted online July 10. The river at the swim and racquet club is sampled weekly from May 15 from Sept. 6.
Phillips said despite the improvement variable weather patterns could cause quick shifts in water quality.
“Those were pulled on Wednesday, July 8 and then we have six-plus inches of rain on Friday,” she said. “Every street, neighborhood, and farm field was flooded with so much rain the subsequent runoff into our creeks and bays negated any results from last week.”
Phillips said although the 108 reading just off the club’s beach caught the attention of many Pines residents, the same week Turville Creek tested at 1,382 per ml.
“There was definitely something going on there at Turville Creek and we’re looking into that,” she said. “Now that’s a number where I would say don’t swim.
Turville Creek samples are drawn from the Gum Point Road boat ramp
Phillips said a good rule of thumb is to avoid open water swimming for at least 48 hours after strong downpours due to storm water runoff.
“We’ll be testing again this Thursday and posting results on Friday,” she said. “With no rain in the forecast this week, I’m sure things will have calmed down by then and our test results should be pretty normal for late July.”
Weekly test results are online at theswimguide.org/affiliates/assateague-coastal-trust/