Monday, May 23, 2011

Fecal Matters: BEACH sampling season is here!

BEACH Program Update

Sunscreen? Check. Swimsuit? Check. Water sampling results? Check!

The sun is peeking out from behind the clouds and the weather is finally warming up, which means it’s time to check the health status of your favorite swimming beach.

Starting this week, we’re hitting the beaches of Puget Sound and the Pacific coast to kick off the 2011 swimming beach sampling season. More than 70 popular marine beaches in Washington will be monitored all summer and the results posted on the BEACH Program website each week.
While most of our beaches are sampled by BEACH Program partners in your local health agency, some are sampled by volunteers with organizations like the Surfrider Foundation and the WSU Extension Beach Watchers.

The Washington BEACH Program monitors public marine swimming beaches in Washington and gets the word out to beachgoers through a website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, blog, and email listserv.

Fecal Matters

What exactly are we looking for in the water? Poop! We test for an indicator bacteria that lets us know if there’s poop in the water. If there is, you could get sick from the bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants that might be there, too. Nobody wants to end their day on the beach with swimmer’s itch, diarrhea, or worse.

You can keep yourself safe by checking to see if your beach is being monitored and paying attention to signs on the beach. Just like a traffic light, colored BEACH Program signs let you know if you should stop and avoid water contact, be careful and be aware of potential risks, or go enjoy.

Get Involved

Let us know where you think we should monitor next year! We’re always looking for suggestions so if you know a popular beach that we’ve missed, let us know.

Jessica Bennett is the Acting BEACH Program Manager and can be reached at

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