Study Finds 20% Of Recreational Water Samples Test Poor for Bacteria

Lara Ford

Disturbing findings from a nationwide search for bacteria in our beloved waters. Volunteers discovered that nearly 20% of water samples exceeded safe bacteria levels, putting our favorite surf, swim, and wade spots at risk. Are we jeopardizing our health for a day at the beach?

In a massive effort to ensure clean and safe beaches, the Surfrider Foundation's volunteer water quality monitoring program has collected an impressive 9,095 water samples from almost 500 beaches across the United States. Their findings have been compiled in the recent Clean Water Report, setting a new record for beach water quality monitoring.

The level of enterococcus bacteria in marine water has been assessed using a measurement called "most probable number." This measures the number of colony-forming units of bacteria per 100 milliliters of water. According to experts, a reading of over 70 indicates "poor" water quality.

The results in Brevard County reveal some interesting findings:

  • Melbourne's Ballard Park was plagued by high levels of enterococcus bacteria in over half of the samples tested. Recent reports from Jan. 12 this year, Dec. 8, and Dec. 21 of last year all showed "poor" results. Although, medium levels were noted on April 27.
  • Bacterial levels in Indian River Lagoon were found to be "poor" on multiple occasions. Tests conducted on May 23, April 13, and March 14 confirm concerning bacterial levels in the Indian River Lagoon. Located on the southeast side of Eau Gallie Causeway, this important body of water is a crucial contributor to the local ecosystem.
  • Poor Water Quality was Detected at Sebastian Inlet. Recent tests conducted on May 23rd have identified dangerous levels of pollutants at the beloved north cove of Sebastian Inlet.

Enterococcus bacteria, commonly found in animals and humans, can pose a serious threat to public health. State officials have identified a concerning trend of heightened bacterial levels after rainfall washes bird droppings off of coastal structures. With this news, residents and visitors are urged to take necessary precautions to protect themselves from potential harm.

Surfrider highlights Florida's "explosive growth" and "poorly-planned development" as factors contributing to the state's beach contamination. Overburdened and eroding sewers and an excess of 2.6 million septic tanks only exacerbate the issue. Furthermore, state health department funding cuts lowered the frequency of water testing, leading to a significant decline in environmental oversight.

Surfrider aims to boost funding for Florida Healthy Beaches and revamp public alerts for beachgoers about increased bacteria levels and sewage spills. The steps are aimed at preserving water quality and promoting public safety on the state's beaches.

Surfing and swimming in contaminated water can cause serious health problems.


What are your thoughts on the quality of Florida's waters? What do you think the citizens can do about it? Let us know in the comments.

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