August of 2000, the Florida Healthy Beaches Program was initiated. This program
is designed to protect the public’s health by monitoring the bacteriological
water quality of the beaches, bays and bayous of Escambia County.
conduct bi-weekly water sampling during the months of March through October and
report the results to:
The Department of Environmental
DEP Water Quality Outlook and the Florida Department of Health
Florida Healthy Beaches Program.
The Sampling process entails:
100 ml sample.
The sample is taken to the University of West Florida’s Wetlands Research
Laboratory (NELAC Certified Lab) for analysis.
- The sample is analyzed for Enterococci bacteria
(typically found in the gut of warm blooded animals).
Enterococci is an 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 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.
sample is expressed as the number of colony forming units (CFU) per 100
milliliters of water sample.
Florida “Healthy Beaches” Program uses the following reporting guidelines:
Enterococci (single sample)
0 – 35 CFU/100 ml is GOOD
36 – 104 CFU/100 ml is MODERATE
105 or greater CFU/100 ml is POOR
A result of 105 or
greater requires a re-sampling of the location before the issuance of an alert
30 day period, a minimum of 5 sample results are needed for accurate
reporting. A “geometric mean” is calculated to provide a more statistically
significant picture of a site’s overall water quality.
result exceeds the recommended thresholds, a resample is conducted. If the
resample result still exceeds the threshold then an alert sign is posted.
alert sign states that swimming or other water contact activities are not
recommended due to high bacterial levels.
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