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Environmental Health - Programs - Florida Healthy Beaches
The Volusia County Health Department 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. Enterococci is the parameter measured. Enteric bacteria normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals. The presence of these enteric indicator organisms is associated with fecal pollution which can be derived from several sources including stormwater runoff, pets, wildlife and human sewage.
We have sampling sites which are spaced out beginning in Ormond Beach south to Daytona Beach, Daytona Beach Shores, Ponce Inlet and concluding in New Smyrna Beach. We now have many years of sampling data and have established some very clear trends regarding the water quality of Volusia County beaches. During the heart of the bathing season, April through October, the water quality at all sampling sites is consistently good. During the winter and early spring a small stretch of our beaches experiences extremely large numbers of migratory birds such as seagulls, terns and other wading birds. As these bird numbers increase so do the elevated bacteria levels at these selected sites. Weather also plays an important role in water quality here as windy conditions appear to have a flushing effect in these areas not allowing bacteria levels to build up over time. Results of our weekly sampling are published in the local newspapers as well as entered into the Florida Healthy Beaches Program database.
When any of the sample sites exceed the established microbiological standards an advisory is issued and signs are posted. A press release is also issued advising against swimming at these sites until conditions improve and the advisory is rescinded.
Page last updated: 12/26/13