Brevard beaches better than most for bacteria content

Florida ranked 5th of 30 states included in analysis


ORLANDO, Fla. – Brevard County beach water tests exceeded national bacteria standards in only 1 percent of samples last year, according to an analysis by a national nonprofit group, as reported by Local 6 partner Florida Today.

Nationally, 8 percent of water samples violated public health standards, according to the study by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Florida ranked 5th of 30 states included in the analysis, with 3 percent of samples exceeding standards in 2011. The state improved by 1 percentage point over the previous four years of NRDC's annual beach water analysis, in which 4 percent of samples at almost 300 beaches tested exceeded standards between 2007 and 2010.

Brevard was among six counties with only 1 percent of samples that exceeded bacteria standards. The others were Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Nassau, and Volusia.

There were no exceedances at beaches monitored in Collier, Duval, Flagler, Franklin, St. Johns, and Wakulla counties.

Beaches in Dixie County had the highest exceedance rate (13 percent), followed by Citrus (11 percent), Okaloosa (10 percent), Hernando (10 percent), and Bay (9 percent) and Hillsborough (9 percent).

In Brevard, NRDC lists 5 percent of 41 samples that exceeded standards at Cocoa Beach Pier and 3 percent of 40 samples that did so at Jetty Park. There were no exceedences at seven other beaches health officials test in the county.

Nationally, the highest violation rate was in the Great Lakes region, with 11 percent of samples exceeding bacteria standards.

NRDC called for stronger federal policies to identify unsafe beach water quality and to clean up major sources of beach pollution, such as stormwater runoff.

EPA is revising the safety standards. Based on risk estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, current federal standards allow for 1 in 28 swimmers to become ill.

Polluted runoff is the biggest known source of pollution that causes swimming advisories or beach closings, NRDC said.