What is Enterococci and Why Do We Track It?

Enterococci normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals. The presence of enteric bacteria can indicate fecal pollution, which can come from stormwater runoff, pets and wildlife, and human sewage. If these bacteria 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 illness or infections.

According to studies conducted by the EPA, enterococci have a greater correlation with swimming associated gastrointestinal illness in marine and fresh waters than other bacterial indicator organisms and are less likely to die off in saltwater. If an enterococci result exceeds 70 cells per 100 milliliters of marine water sampled, then an Advisory should be issued for the sampling site.

Suncoast Waterkeeper will continue to monitor sites with consistently poor test results and follow up by notifying appropriate local officials. See the SCWK Sick of Sewage Campaign and success stories.

Click here to see our report card and find out which sites got an F and are notoriously UNSAFE TO SWIM