Florida Healthy Beaches Program
Downtown Service Center, 1300 West Gregory Street, Pensacola, FL 32501
The Florida Healthy Beaches Program was established in August 2000. This program aims to protect the public’s health by monitoring bacteriological water quality of Escambia County beaches, bays and bayous.
The program conducts bi-weekly water sampling from March to October. Results are reported to:
- Department of Environmental Protection DEP Water Quality Outlook
- Florida Department of Health’s 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 inhabits 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. High concentrations of enteric bacteria in recreational waters can cause infections or diseases if ingested while swimming or swimming with a cut.
- 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-samling of the location before issuance of an alert.
- Within a 30 day period, a minimum of five 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.
- A resample is conducted if result exceeds the recommended thresholds. 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.
Location & Contact Information
Downtown Service Center, 1300 West Gregory Street
The Florida Healthy Beaches office is open Monday-Friday from 8 AM to 4:30 PM. Call 850-595-6700 for more information.