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Insight, but no answers, for Fairview Beach
After latest study, questions linger about Fairview Beach bacteria contamination

Date published: 10/8/2012


A final study tracking the source of bacterial contamination at Fairview Beach says that efforts by the state and local residents are shedding more light on the problem, but more work needs to be done.

The microbial source-tracking report--a joint effort by the Virginia Department of Health and Virginia Tech--is focused on the 46 Virginia beaches under the state's beach-monitoring program. The report was recently posted on the state Health Department website.

Fairview Beach, a popular venue along the Potomac River in King George County, is the only state-monitored beach not on the Chesapeake Bay or Atlantic Ocean.

It has another distinction. Since Health Department monitoring began in 2004, Fairview Beach has consistently topped the list in the number of swimming advisories posted during the May-to-September swimming season.

The report's section on Fairview Beach notes that the site has a long history of contamination.

"The most obvious indications have been frequent advisories every year," it states, along with reports by residents last year "of human waste observed on the one-mile shoreline plus reports of tampons and human waste" along private beach fronts.

Fishermen also reported finding human waste and tissue in their nets.

The report cautions there's no certainty that what's described in those reports actually is human waste.

A slew of state agency representatives and beach residents met for three hours at the village's firehouse last month to talk about the contamination, remediation efforts and what still needs to be done.

Years of work have been invested in the search for a cause of the contamination. Sewer lines and an aging trailer park's septic sites have been inspected and repaired, and dye testing of pipes and stormwater drains completed.

The Health Department takes water samples at three spots along the beach each week during the swimming season. If bacteria levels are above allowable limits, an advisory is posted. Five advisories were put up this season.

The Fairview Beach Residents Association has done its share of work, including identifying and correcting hot spots.

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