Gulf Water Quality Results

Discussion in 'All About SoWal' started by AimsBH, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. AimsBH

    AimsBH Beach Crab

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    What's up with the fecal bacteria? Any idea how long this will be around? Don't want to spend our vacation next week being able to look but not touch :(
     
  2. Beach Runner

    Beach Runner beats on hood

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    To answer your question, it's a dynamic situation. Who knows what the water quality, weather, rip tide, biting fly, red tide, shark, jellyfish, seaweed, etc., conditions will be on any given week? You have to roll the dice and keep yourself informed.

    To get specific info about beach water quality, keep yourself informed at http://esetappsdoh.doh.state.fl.us/irm00beachwater/beachresults.aspx?county=Walton . This website says they sample once a week, although sometimes they resample (like at Eastern Lake last week).

    Check the thread about septic tanks for more info.
     
  3. AimsBH

    AimsBH Beach Crab

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    I spoke to the dept of health in Walton County and they indicated they had re-tested yesterday and would have the results today. I'm not sure if I should be optimistic about the rain and hope it has washed it out or worry that more ground water will cause more sewer leakage.... :| We've dealt with the seaweed and jellyfish plenty of times, but I'm not sure what to do with water that could make you sick by swimming in it. Especially with 4 small kiddos.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012
  4. lenzoe

    lenzoe Beach Fanatic

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    Here's a FAQ from Okaloosa's Department of Health site:

    http://www.doh.state.fl.us/chdokaloosa/Services/Environmental_Health/documents/FAQs_HealthyBeaches_June2012.pdf

    [...]
    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
    REGARDING BEACH WATER QUALITY
    - June 2012 -
    What is the Healthy Beaches program?
    Coastal beach water samples are collected in Florida every two weeks by county health departments. The
    samples are analyzed for enterococci bacteria. High concentrations of these bacteria may indicate the
    presence of microorganisms that could cause disease, infections, or rashes. County health departments
    will issue health advisories when these conditions are confirmed.
    What are enterococci?
    Enterococci are bacteria found in the intestine of all warm-blooded animals, including humans. Because
    these bacteria are easy to detect and commonly found in animal and human waste, they are used as
    indicators of recreational water quality conditions. Enterococci are the organisms that the US
    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends using to measure bacteria leves in recreational
    water.
    What causes the health department to issue an advisory?
    Swimming in natural water bodies is always at your own risk, regardless of whether an advisory is issued.
    If the health department has issued an advisory, it is because enterococci bacteria have exceeded the
    acceptable level.
    Can I swim or wade in the water when an advisory is posted?
    That is your personal decision. The Health Department is advising you to not enter the water if the beach
    is under an advisory. There is a risk of illness from contacting beach water with elevated bacteria levels in
    several ways: by ingesting water, by getting water in the nose, eyes, and ears, or by water making contact
    with an open wound.
    For the vast majority of people, the risk of serious illness is minimal. An otherwise healthy person may
    have no problems with contact with the water of a beach that is under advisory. Some may experience a
    minor inflammation of a cut, a mild sore throat, or mild diarrhea after exposure to water from a beach
    under advisory. The greatest risk is for very young children, the elderly and people who have
    compromised immune systems since their ability to fight off infection is limited by age or disease.
    Swimming in natural water bodies is always at your own risk. Natural bodies of water contain bacteria,
    viruses, and other microorganisms at various levels. This advisory is for elevated bacteria levels only.
    Please note that the samples were taken at the beginning of the week and reflect the water quality at that
    time and are limited to the specific beach area.
    Water turbidity (water cloudiness) is a good indicator of water quality. The cloudier the water the greater
    the chance the bacteria level is elevated. The clearer the water the lower the bacteria count. Use good
    judgment when deciding to swim in natural bodies of water.
    Is it OK to eat crabs & fish from an area that is under advisory or closed to swimming?
    Cooking kills bacteria and viruses, so it is generally okay to eat crabs and fish taken from these areas --
    as long as they are handled properly. Fish should be washed with freshwater, kept in a cool place on ice
    and then cooked thoroughly. After cooking, neither the crabs nor fish should come back into contact with
    any surfaces or containers in which they were kept uncooked.
    Are the beaches closed when there is an advisory?
    No, the beaches are not closed. Page 2/2
    What should I do after coming in contact with natural bodies of water?
    Shower and wash your hands well with soap and warm water soon after swimming and before eating and
    drinking. While on the beach use hand sanitizer or hand wipes before eating or drinking.
    When will the local health department lift an advisory or closure?
    An advisory is lifted after results are back to normal.
    What do the signs look like, and where can they be located on our beaches?
    Visit the Okaloosa County Health Department’s website, www.HealthyOkaloosa.com, and click on the
    “Healthy Beaches” link.
    [...]
     
  5. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

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    Something tells me we have a better chance of getting sick from touching shopping carts and using public restrooms than we do swimming in the Gulf. Just a hunch.
     
  6. Zebraspots

    Zebraspots Beach Fanatic

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    I don't worry about swallowing water that can make me sick, contaminated water getting in my nose or eyes, or cuts getting infected when using a shopping cart or restroom.
     
  7. AimsBH

    AimsBH Beach Crab

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    Thanks, Lenzoe. Good info.

    And I dunno, JDarg, I think I'd rather take my chances with every days germs that I can wipe down with a clorox wipe instead of an ocean full of fecal bacteria. I'm not sure I've seen a clorox wipe that big :) I do understand that $hit happens - in this case literally - but knowingly sticking my kids in water that is posted hazardous isn't on my bucket list. Luckily the home we rented has a big pool and we always have fun on 30-a with our bikes and all the fun little shops. We're still coming and going to make the best of it!
     
  8. AimsBH

    AimsBH Beach Crab

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    totally agree :) Definitely on a different scale of magnitude.
     
  9. Beach Runner

    Beach Runner beats on hood

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    From my experience pool cleaners don't service pools on the weekend. Our service day is Monday. So that means that if someone checks out on Saturday, the pool doesn't get cleaned until Monday. So when you check in and the pool looks cloudy, don't go into the water. Call the rental management company and demand that the pool gets cleaned ASAP so you don't have to wait until Monday (or later, depending on the schedule) to have a clean pool. You might want to buy a pool testing kit. You can get them at the pool supply place on 331 just north of the bridge.

    Right now we are in-between beach houses. So we plan to buy a pool testing kit so we can check the water quality before we get into a community pool. The worst problem with community pools is baby poop in diapers.
     
  10. Scooter

    Scooter Beach Fanatic

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    The beaches of south walton can't be beat. But there is sooooo much more to experience. Go to the beach and have a grayt time!!!!
     
  11. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

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    You are missing my point- i still contend that we have a better chance of getting sick out of the Gulf than in it, so before there is mass panic that the Gulf is always dirty here, let's keep a little perspective. There is not an epidemic of sickness happening from the water quality, or the local health professionals would be weighing in on it.

    Headed to Grayton today- hopefully the salt water will fix the coughing, sore throat, and stuffy head plaguing my family! it is this stuff that really seems to be going around!
     
  12. lenzoe

    lenzoe Beach Fanatic

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    I agree. I thought one notable thing mentioned in the Okaloosa health FAQ was that a normal, healthy individual probably wouldn't see any difference just carrying on as normal. In the event us sickly types pick up *anything*, the described likely symptoms were really mild.

    Around Atlanta, people play around in the Chatahoochee every day. The vast majority of those people are fine.
     
  13. mputnal

    mputnal Beach Fanatic

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    My point is that we can make our water quality better if that is our goal and I think it is. We can all make a difference by using less fertilizers and pesticides and herbicides to run off into the Bay and Gulf. We should at least have a feasible option to connect to municipal sewer and right now that option does not exist for many of us. If we have a major rain event like just hit most of Florida and we get 10 or more inches of rain the water quality will take a nose dive from septic tanks that fill up and overflow. We can not control the rain but we can make better choices in whether we spend our money on marketing studies or advertising or infrastructure. We need a good debate on our priorities...
     
  14. Zebraspots

    Zebraspots Beach Fanatic

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    Is there any correlation between the recent boil water notices and these sampling results? The 2 areas they issued the boil water notices for the other week are very close to the 2 sampling sites of concern this week.
     
  15. NotDeadYet

    NotDeadYet Beach Fanatic

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    No. I live in the area where the boil water notice was. There was a water main break just east of Cassine, someone was digging and broke the main. Whenever there is a break like that a boil water notice is issued as a precaution as it is considered a 'compromise' of the water supply system. Contamination could have entered the system at the break point and/or during the repair. I think in actual practice the chlorine and the dilution are usually sufficient but they follow standard procedure, and it might even be mandated. So no connection. We get a lot of water line breaks around here and there is always a boil water notice. Never heard of anyone getting sick from one of these, and lots of people never hear about the boil water notice.
     
  16. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

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    Yes. Thank you.
     
  17. JoBu

    JoBu Beach Comber

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    A pretty decent article explaining many factors that can affect the water quality at beaches: http://www.nrdc.org/water/oceans/ttw/pollution-sources.asp I would copy\paste the article, but its kinda long.

    Enjoyed a perfect week at Seaside last week, not once thinking about the quality of the ocean water. Didn't know i needed to worry. Anyway, our family had a great time in y'alls little slice of paradise.
     
  18. zrettig82

    zrettig82 Beach Crab

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    Less tourists in water=less fecal matter.
     
  19. NotDeadYet

    NotDeadYet Beach Fanatic

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    Water Quality Results

    Poor results again. :blink:

    The Walton County Health Department conducts regularly scheduled saltwater beach water quality monitoring at seven sites through the Healthy Beaches Monitoring Program. The water samples are being analyzed for enteric bacteria (enterococci) that normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals, which may cause human disease, infections, or rashes. The presence of enteric bacteria is an indication of fecal pollution, which may come from stormwater runoff, pets and wildlife, and human sewage. The purpose of the Healthy Beaches Monitoring Program is to determine whether Florida has significant coastal beach water quality problems and whether future beach monitoring efforts are necessary.

    [TABLE="width: 733"]
    [TR="bgcolor: transparent"]
    [TD]Site[/TD]
    [TD="width: 243, bgcolor: transparent"]Name[/TD]
    [TD="width: 116, bgcolor: transparent"]Enterococci[/TD]
    [TD="width: 116, bgcolor: transparent"]Water Quality[/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR="bgcolor: transparent"]
    [TD="width: 71, bgcolor: transparent"]SP-1[/TD]
    [TD="width: 243, bgcolor: transparent"]Miramar Beach[/TD]
    [TD="width: 116, bgcolor: transparent"]148[/TD]
    [TD="width: 116, bgcolor: transparent"]Poor[/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR="bgcolor: transparent"]
    [TD="width: 71, bgcolor: transparent"]SP-3[/TD]
    [TD="width: 243, bgcolor: transparent"]Dune Allen Beach[/TD]
    [TD="width: 116, bgcolor: transparent"] 248[/TD]
    [TD="width: 116, bgcolor: transparent"]Poor[/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR="bgcolor: transparent"]
    [TD="width: 71, bgcolor: transparent"]SP-4[/TD]
    [TD="width: 243, bgcolor: transparent"]Blue Mountain Beach[/TD]
    [TD="width: 116, bgcolor: transparent"]152[/TD]
    [TD="width: 116, bgcolor: transparent"]Poor[/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR="bgcolor: transparent"]
    [TD="width: 71, bgcolor: transparent"]SP-5[/TD]
    [TD="width: 243, bgcolor: transparent"]Grayton Beach[/TD]
    [TD="width: 116, bgcolor: transparent"] 12[/TD]
    [TD="width: 116, bgcolor: transparent"]Good[/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR="bgcolor: transparent"]
    [TD="width: 71, bgcolor: transparent"]SP-7[/TD]
    [TD="width: 243, bgcolor: transparent"]Holly Street Beach[/TD]
    [TD="width: 116, bgcolor: transparent"]192[/TD]
    [TD="width: 116, bgcolor: transparent"]Poor[/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR="bgcolor: transparent"]
    [TD="width: 71, bgcolor: transparent"]SP-8[/TD]
    [TD="width: 243, bgcolor: transparent"]Eastern Lake Beach[/TD]
    [TD="width: 116, bgcolor: transparent"] 40[/TD]
    [TD="width: 116, bgcolor: transparent"]Moderate[/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR="bgcolor: transparent"]
    [TD="width: 71, bgcolor: transparent"]SP-9[/TD]
    [TD="width: 243, bgcolor: transparent"]Inlet Beach Access[/TD]
    [TD="width: 116, bgcolor: transparent"] 44[/TD]
    [TD="width: 116, bgcolor: transparent"]Moderate[/TD]
    [/TR]
    [/TABLE]
    Water quality classifications are based upon United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) recommended criteria and Florida Healthy Beaches Program Categories:
    Good = 0 – 35 Enterococci per 100 ml of marine
    Moderate = 36 – 104 Enterococci per 100 ml of marine water
    Poor = greater than 105 Enterococci per 100 ml of marine water
    Health Advisories have been issued for the Miramar Beach Access, Dune Allen Beach Access, Blue Mountain Beach Access and the Holley Street Beach Access based on the enterococci standard recommended by the EPA. This should be considered a potential health risk to the bathing public.

    If you should have any questions, please contact the Walton County Health Department of (850) 892-8021, or visit the Department of Health’s internet Beach Water Quality website (www.doh.state.fl.us, click on “Floridians and Visitors” – under “Food, Water, Air, Land,” choose “Beach Water Quality.”
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 8, 2012
  20. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

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    My first guess (actually engineer Bdarg who knows quite a bit about the environmental stuff) says with all the rain, stormwater runoff will mess up the water.
     

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