Committee of the Islands

Keeping Sanibel Special Since 1975

Florida Healthy Beaches Testing Program

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May 03, 2010

FLORIDA HEALTHY BEACHES TESTING PROGRAM In 1998 , five of Florida''s coastal counties began monitoring for enterococci bacteria under a grant - funded pilot program . By the beginning of 2000 , 11 Florida counties were participating in the program which continued through July 2000 . To review the sa mpling history for those counties who participated in the original program , click here . In August 2000 , the beach water sampling program was extended to 34 of Florida''s coastal counties through state legislation ( Senate Bill 1412 and House Bill 2145 ) and funding . In addition , sampling under the new program now includes fecal coliform as well as enterococci bacteria . The rationale for selecting these two bacteria for analysis and implications of the sampling results are described below . In August 2002 , t he beach water sampling program began collecting water samples on a weekly basis with additional funding from U.S . EPA . Health Implications Fecal coliform and enterococci are both enteric bacteria that normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals . The presence of enteric bacteria is an indication of fecal pollution , which may come from stormwater runoff , pets and wildlife , and human sewage . If they are present in high concentrations in recreational waters and are ingested while swimming or enter the skin through a cut or sore , they may cause human disease , infections or rashes . ( A ) Fecal Coliform : Fecal coliform , which is used by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection ( DEP ) to determine water quality in fresh , brackish and marine water environments , has long been Florida’s preferred indicator organism in both fresh and saltwater . Under the new Departm ent of Health testing program , if a fecal coliform result is observed to exceed 399 colony forming units per 100 milliliters of beach water sampled and a resampling result also exceeds this value , then a health " Warning " would be issued for the sampling si te . ( 100 milliliters is about 7 tablespoons of water ) . Florida Healthy Beaches Program Categories as of 8 / 2002 : Good = 0 - 199 fecal coliform per 100 milliliters of marine water Moderate = 200 - 399 fecal coliform per 100 milliliters of marine water Poor = 400 or greater fecal coliform per 1 00 milliliters of marine water Sampling events resulting is a " poor " classification will normally require resampling . ( B ) Enterococci The statewide testing program will also include testing for enterococci , which the United States Environmental Protection A gency ( EPA ) has recommended states adopt as a saltwater quality indicator . According to studies conducted by the EPA , enterococci have a greater correlation with swimming - associated gastrointestinal illness in both marine and fresh waters than other bacter ial indicator organisms , and are less likely to " die off " in saltwater . If an enterococci result were observed to exceed 103 colony forming units per 100 milliliters of beach water sampled and a resampling result also exceeds this value , then an " Advisory " would be issued for the sampling site . With the collection of weekly samples , the program will also calculate the geometric mean for enterococci . Florida Healthy Beaches Program Categories are : Good = 0 - 35 Enterococci per 100 milliliters of marine water Moderate = 36 - 104 Enterococci per 100 milliliters of marine water Poor = 105 or greater Enterococci per 100 milliliters of marine water

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