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Florida Healthy Beaches

Florida Department of Health in Pasco County Environmental Health Services

Beach Water Quality, Program Overview

The Florida Department of Health in Pasco County collects samples for microbiological analysis on different coastal beach locations on a routine basis. The authority and funding for this program comes from the State Healthy Beaches Program which was enacted through State legislation in August of 2000 and includes all 34 of Florida's coastal counties.

Health Implications

Enterococci is an enteric indicator 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 storm water 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.

The statewide testing program tests for enterococci, which the United States Environmental Protection Agency (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 bacterial indicator organisms, and are less likely to "die off" in saltwater. If an enterococci result were observed to exceed 104 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.

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

Maps:

To check sample results around the State go to http://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/beach-water-quality/index.html and pick the county you are interested in.