Health Advisory: High bacteria levels found at 3 local beaches

File photo, Ben T. Davis Beach

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Health officials are warning people about unsafe levels of bacteria found in the water at three local beaches.

The Hillsborough County Health Department on Thursday issued a health advisory for Bahia Beach, Ben T. Davis Beach and Cypress Point Beach based on the criteria for enterococci bacteria recommended by the EPA.

Samples taken at the beaches on Monday were above the threshold for enterococci bacteria. The health department said this should be considered a potential risk to the bathing public.

Samples will be taken at the beaches again on Monday, March 21st. When re-sampling indicates that the water is within the satisfactory range, the advisories will be lifted.

Water quality categorizations are based upon: Water quality categorizations are based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) standard for enterococci is that beaches with a beach action value of 70.5 or higher are given an advisory.

The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County has been conducting coastal beach water quality monitoring at nine sites once every two weeks since August 2000, and weekly since August 5, 2002 through the Healthy Beaches Monitoring Program. The water samples are being analyzed for enteric bacteria (enterococci) that normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals, which may cause human disease, infections, or rashes. The presence of enteric bacteria is an indication of fecal pollution, which may come from storm water runoff, pets and wildlife, and human sewage. The purpose of the Healthy Beaches Monitoring Program is to determine whether Florida has significant coastal beach water quality problems.

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