Natural Resources Defense Council releases beach water quality report
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07/12/12 Olivia Kabat
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Some Pinellas County beaches, like Sand Key, fared well in the NRDC report.


photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF (Sept. 2009)

The Natural Resources Defense Council recently released their 22nd annual Vacation Beach Water Quality Report. The findings show an overall rise in pollution at beaches around the US, but Florida fared better than most states.

According to NRDC’s results, Florida’s beaches ranked 5th in Beachwater Quality out of 30 states. Only 3% of samples in the Sunshine State exceeded national standards for beaches in 2011. At beaches like Fort DeSoto, and Sand Key less than 5% of water samples exceeded national standards in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Jackie Wei, media associate with the Natural Resources Defense Council says before people go to the beach this summer they should check out the report.

“We do it every year and we’ve been doing it for 22 years. Basically it spotlights the state of our beaches nationwide, taking a look at the pollution problems that we have at some beaches and also looking at which beaches faired clean and which beaches need to do more.”

According to Wei, pollution can put the public at risk for contracting waterborne diseases. But currently the Natural Resources Defense Council doesn’t have dependable data on how many Americans get sick from swimming in contaminated beach water.

“It shows us that America’s beaches are plagued by a sobering legacy of water pollution including bacteria from animal and human waste. So what we look at is bacterial contamination and this year’s report reveals that we still have a lot to do. I should note that two thirds of those closings and advisories were issued due to the threat of high bacterial contamination in water largely from storm water pollution.”

Wei says this year’s report is a good reason for the public to take action to demand safer beaches.

“I think the number one thing people can do is really use our report to share updates about local beaches with their friends and family. For the first time this year we have a new zip code map of over 6,000 beaches. It also includes a social media engagement function that essentially allows users to share their beach locations and also take action to urge our EPA leaders to improve public health standards for swimmers.”

Wei also says people should research beaches in their community as a sensible health precaution.

“Kind of more practical tips, people can use our report to see how our beaches have historically fared. As a practical, best practice, folks should be sure not to swim within 72 hours of rain or in front of flowing storm drains. If the water looks or smells funny don’t go in. Make sure that you look for closing advisory notices and signs and pay attention to those.”

Natural Resources Defense Council: Beach Water Quality Report

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