To address concerns raised by our board, and our members, Suncoast Waterkeeper started a weekly sampling program during January of 2020. The locations we sample are usually not part of any other sampling sites. Some of these sites have intense recreation. We also include our site specific sampling files to provide accurate data relevant to our waters. Any results over 70 should be evaluated for some concern of a health risk if there is contact with the water.
Health Implications (posted by the Florida Dept of Health)
Enterococci are enteric bacteria that normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals. The presence of enteric bacteria can be 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.
The statewide testing program tests for enterococci, which the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opens in new window 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 70 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 = 36-70 Enterococci per 100 milliliters of marine water
Poor = 71 or greater Enterococci per 100 milliliters of marine water