Galveston Island State Park, which is about 10 miles away from the closest beach that reads high for fecal bacteria in the water, at sunset. Wikimedia Commons
Galveston Island State Park, which is about 10 miles away from the closest beach that reads high for fecal bacteria in the water, at sunset. Wikimedia Commons

National

Going to the beach this summer? Make sure you're not swimming in poo water

By Matthew Martinez

mmartinez@mcclatchy.com

March 08, 2018 05:07 PM

Concepts that don’t go well together:

Oil and water. Peanut butter and pickles. Or, a relaxing beach outing and high fecal bacteria readings.

Yuck.

But that’s exactly what some Texas Gulf Coast beach destinations are plagued with as summer approaches, according to a website called Texas Beach Watch.

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Talk about smelly timing.

Texas Beach Watch is an arm of the Texas General Land Office that lets visitors know the water quality at recreational beaches. It currently lists just three locations along the Lone Star portion of the Gulf Coast that exceed acceptable SPA standards for Enterococcus bacteria levels in the water.

That's a much more promising outlook than right before Spring Break, when 13 Texas beaches measured "high" on the poop-o-meter.

Enterococcus bacteria feed on fecal bacteria, and their presence is measured as an indicator of the amount of fecal bacteria in a certain section of ocean water, according to MIT. They are measured according to EPA standards by colony forming units (CFUs) per 100ml of seawater.

Any beach with greater than 104cfu per 100ml is considered highly polluted. According to the EPA, swimming in polluted water can lead to nausea, vomiting, stomachaches, diarrhea, headache or fever.

Locations considered highly polluted as of Friday afternoon included (from southwest to northeast):

  • Access point 6 near Bahia Grande, east of Brownsville and Harlingen
  • Cole Park access point 4 on the west side of Corpus Christi Bay
  • Center Road Beach near East Bay and Galveston Bay

The Texas Beach Watch map is constantly being updated, though, so use it as a resource before you stick your toes in the sand, and whatever else may be lurking, this summer.

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