In my new novel, Dr. Kate Connors always checks the beach water quality reports before she allows her three-year-old daughter Crystal to play in the water. How many of us actually know where those water quality reports are posted and which beaches are most likely to have contaminated water? In Nocturne, Opus 1: Sea Foam, characters participate in a fact-based political debate about which beaches along the United States' seacoast have passed water quality tests, which are the worst offenders, and how quickly tourists and local residents are notified of a problem.
Where are the water quality reports posted in your state for bodies of water where children and adults play, swim, kayak, sail, or participate in other activities?
In Delaware the marine beachwater monitoring is done by DNREC, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. Posted on their website http://apps.dnrec.state.de.us/RecWater/ are maps citing water quality at state beaches and the following information:
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's Recreational Water Program protects the health of swimmers in a number of ways.
- Shoreline surveys are conducted adjacent to guarded recreational beaches to identify all actual and potential sources of pollution.
- Water samples are collected at least weekly at all guarded beaches during the swimming season (mid May through Labor Day).
- Water samples are analyzed to determine the levels of Enterococci bacteria in recreational waters. Enterococcus is one of several indicator organisms that signal the presence of potentially harmful bacteria and viruses.
- Signs have been posted at popular public access points around Rehoboth Bay, Indian River Bay, and Little Assawoman Bay to warn potential swimmers of the risks associated with swimming in poor quality waters.
- For your health and safety, the Department recommends swimming only at guarded beaches where water samples are collected.
- There is a permanent caution regarding swimming in the Inland Bays. The Inland Bays suffer from nutrient pollution, coming from failing septic systems, fertilizers and other sources. Water is slow to flush out of these bay, Indian River Bay, Rehoboth Bay and Little Assawoman Bay, so pollutants linger.
Want Beach Monitoring Advisories hot off the press? Join the Beach Monitoring list from DNREC Online Email Lists.