Florida Healthy Beaches Program
Contact the Bureau of Environmental Health, Water Programs
This website displays information about the results from routine bacterial monitoring. For information on other water quality issues please see the following websites.
Red Tide Information
For information on health effects related to Ride Tide, please see the Department of Health’s Aquatic Toxins program website.
For the latest Red Tide testing results, please go to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Website.
For information on blue-green algae monitoring, please see the Florida Department of Environmental Protection algal bloom response website.
Contact the Public Beach Water Program
Email: Under Florida Law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your email address released in response to a public records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing. AskEH@flhealth.gov
Phone: 850-245-4240Physical Address: 4052 Bald Cypress Way,
Bin A-08, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1710
Beach Water Quality, Program Overview
In 1998, five of Florida's coastal counties began monitoring for enterococci bacteria under a grant-funded pilot program. By the beginning of 2000, 11 Florida counties were participating in the program, which continued through July 2000.
In August 2000, the Beach Water Sampling Program was extended to 30 of Florida's coastal counties through state legislation (Senate Bill 1412 and House Bill 2145) and funding. In addition, sampling under the new program include fecal coliform as well as enterococci bacteria. The rationale for selecting these two bacteria for analysis and implications of the sampling results are described below. In August 2002, the beach water sampling program also began collecting water samples on a weekly basis with additional funding from U.S. EPA.
Changes to funding levels in 2011 resulted in a return to bi-weekly sampling, the elimination of all fecal coliform sampling, and a reduction of the number of sample locations. Since enterococcus bacteria are indicators of the same types of pollution as fecal coliform bacteria, this did not affect the safety of Florida Residents. At this time sampling in the northern parts of the state was also suspended during the winter months, November through February.
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