Beach Sampling



Beach Sampling

In 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.

We conduct bi-weekly water sampling during the months of March through October and report the results to:

The Department of Environmental Protection DEP Water Quality Outlook and the Florida Department of Health Florida Healthy Beaches Program.

The Sampling process entails:

  • Collection of 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.

  • The sample is expressed as the number of colony forming units (CFU) per 100 milliliters of water sample.
  • The 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
  • Within a 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.
  • If the result exceeds the recommended thresholds, a resample is conducted. If the resample result still exceeds the threshold then an alert sign is posted.
  • The alert sign states that swimming or other water contact activities are not recommended due to high bacterial levels.



This page was last modified on: 07/01/2014 14:43:38

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