Silverdale Waterfront Park reopens to swimmers

Silverdale Waterfront Park reopened for swimming this afternoon following a five-day closure after tests found high levels of bacteria in the water.

The reopening of the park on Dyes Inlet comes days before Silverdale's Whaling Days festival, set for this weekend.

Signs telling people to stay away from the water were removed at about 4 p.m. Tuesday.

On Thursday more tests will be run on the water, said Jim Zimny, senior environmental health specialist for the Kitsap County Health District.

Officials closed the waterfront, advising against contact with the water, after tests showed elevated levels of enterococci bacteria.

Zimny said it's not uncommon for beaches to be closed and reopened during summer months, when the waters are tested twice weekly for pollution.

"It's one of those things that can come and go with the tide," he said.

The next tests will take place Thursday. If elevated levels of pollution are found, the water would be tested again Friday to confirm contact with the water could pose a hazard to humans.

Officials routinely retest water to confirm tests showing high levels of the bacteria, an indicator of other pollution that could pose a risk to people.

"Unless it's extremely high, then we don't mess around," Zimny said.

Silverdale Waterfront Park is one of eight sites the district tests every week from before Memorial Day weekend to the week after Labor Day.

Although testing can give health officials a picture of the risks associated with contact with the water, identifying the source of the pollution is more difficult.

At the Silverdale site, in particular, Zimny said the potential causes of the pollution are all around.

"We see boats in the marina, birds on the beach, dogs, people, all those can be sources of bacteria," he said.

Health officials began the twice-weekly testing regimen on Dyes Inlet two years ago when a sewer pipe broke near Strawberry Creek. The beach was closed for about three weeks following the break, Zimny said.

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