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Baltimore County Officials Seek Source Of E. Coli Contamination Found In Cox's Point Park

ESSEX, Md. (WJZ) -- A recreational water quality advisory remains in effect at Cox's Point Park after samples revealed moderately high levels of E. coli by the boat ramp.

Baltimore County's Department of Health Division of Environmental Health Services posted warning signs at the park on Riverside Drive in Essex.

The recreational water quality advisory states that water-related activities may pose an increased health risk and suggests following certain precautions, including avoiding and minimizing contact with natural waters whenever cloudy.

"We are certainly looking into what might be causing it," Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr. "Large rain events are always a contributing factor and we're looking at all other potential contributors as well."

On June 29, Baltimore County's Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability learned that water samples taken from Cox's Boat Ramp had 275.5 most probable number or MPN of bacteria present. 

According to the EPS, a single sample maximum of E. coli concentrations recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or USEPA for recreational waters has a standard of 235 MPN.

The sample taken at Cox's Point Boat Ramp is in yellow, meaning it may not be suitable for activities involving direct contact with the water

The advisory states recent heavy rains, storms, or other conditions may have resulted in significantly reduced water quality in the upper portion of the tidal Back River in the vicinity of Cox's Point Park.

"We will do our best to make sure we have ongoing live water quality dashboards," Olszewski said. "We'll post advisories whenever possible because we really do want people to know when it is safe and when it's not safe even as we work to have a long-term sustainable healthy back river and a long-term sustainable healthy bay."

The long-term efforts for a healthy Back River follow operations at a nearby city-owned wastewater treatment plant coming under fire for pollution and compliance issues.

The Maryland Department of Environment is working with the City of Baltimore to make necessary repairs to the plant.

The recreational water advisory is in effect until further notice, according to Baltimore County. 

For more information, contact Baltimore County at 410-887-3663.

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