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Archived News Release from 2010

For Immediate Release

E.Coli Bacteria Levels Prompt Removal/Replacement of Sand Features at Two Redwood City Parks

Redwood City, CA - March 23, 2010 - Testing of the sand in play areas at Redwood City’s Stafford Park and Maddux Park has revealed persistently higher-than expected levels of the E.coli bacteria, despite repeated attempts to prevent proliferation of the bacteria. Over the last year, this has prompted City officials to periodically close the sand features to public use, depending on testing results. Since the contamination continues to recur, the sand features will be entirely removed and replaced with alternative play features. Park users and neighbors will have the opportunity to work with staff at two upcoming community meetings to discuss what alternative play features are most desired.

The community meetings with park users and neighbors will take place on Saturday, April 10 at 11:00 am (simultaneous meetings at both parks). At these meetings, City staff and community members will discuss options for what kind of play features might be installed to replace the sand features. Stafford Park is located at King Street and Hopkins Avenue; Maddux Park is located at Maddux Drive and Kensington Road.

E.coli is a common bacteria that exists in the digestive tract of humans and other warm-blooded animals. In sand or soil, it is generally caused by fecal contamination – this could be from humans, cats, or other animals. Most strains of bacteria are harmless, although some strains can cause gastrointestinal problems in humans if ingested. The presence of E.coli at higher levels is not uncommon in beach sand in some areas, but this has not been typical of Redwood City parks. There are no national, state or county guidelines for soil/sand testing of playgrounds - the City had already developed its own guidelines.

The City rakes and cleans the sand areas of all its parks at least 5 days a week, and tests the sand periodically. When Stafford and Maddux were tested and found to have higher than expected levels of E.coli, City staff removed and replaced the sand with clean, larger-grained sand, and also rebuilt the sand container shallower, in an attempt to improve drainage. After the rebuild, the sand initially tested negative, but re-testing the following month again revealed higher than expected levels of E.coli. Because the City has been unable to prevent the problem from recurring, the decision was made to replace the sand features with other play features.

The Redwood City Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department provides recreational facilities and activities for all ages and interests, and supplies building and custodial services for City buildings. Redwood City Parks also operates the Fair Oaks Community Center, providing social, educational, and cultural activities, as well as information, referral, and counseling services to persons living in Redwood City and neighboring communities. Redwood City Parks is more than you think! Its website is located at

Visit Redwood City’s award-winning website at for information about the City and its services, the community, recreation programs, education, City government, and local business. Subscribe to Redwood City’s newsletters or other City documents at


Gary Hover
Parks Superintendent
650-780-7250 / cell: 650-444-4544  


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