High levels of fecal bacteria measured on dozens of beaches
Over the past two years, high concentration levels of the fecal bacteria, E.coli and Enterococcen, were measured on 50 Dutch beaches, RTL Nieuws reported. The fecal bacteria can cause vomiting and diarrhea. It is especially dangerous for children and the elderly.
Fecal bacteria can enter the water either due to an overflowing sewer, agricultural manure or bird droppings.
Katwijk is one of the beaches where a high concentration of fecal bacteria was measured by the Rijkswaterstaat. Sewage water is sometimes discharged here in the same area where people swim and surf.
Louis van Schie from the Coast Busters, an organization dedicated to removing trash from beaches, also noticed this. “We find cotton swabs, tampons, hair, toothbrushes, you name it. All kinds of stuff, you clearly see came from the sewer”, Van Schie said.
Online, many surfers complained about becoming ill after surfing at Katwijk. One reaction read, for example, “Just had an evening session at Katwijk. The sea was littered with garbage. Rushing to get home on time…, yep diarrhea again. What is it with that surf spot in Katwijk? Would definitely not recommend it!”
The Surfriders Foundation Holland Coast said they received an increasing number of reports from all over the country about people who became ill after surfing due to fecal bacteria. “The reports concern skin and eye irritation, stomach complaints, severe diarrhea and often also nausea”, campaign director Simon Witt said.
Many beach visitors are unaware of this situation. Witt said there is currently not enough being done to warn people. “What you see now is that information is mainly spread on informal channels”, the campaign director stated.
Microbiologist, Anniek de Jong, said that the only way the issue can be tackled is at the source. Until then people should be warned ahead of time. To do so measurements need to be conducted more frequently. “Then we know much better what the current state of affairs is, but we can also warn people much faster about health risks and close locations for a short period of time”, de Jong said.
The places where fecal bacteria was measured most often were at Oud Valkeveen in Noord-Holland (18 times), Zeestrand Termunten in Groningen (17 times) and at the Oude Pol in Gelderland and Katwijk aan Zee Boulevard Noord in Zuidholland (both seven times).