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Improve Beach Water Quality Monitoring, Florida

Improve Beach Water Quality Monitoring, Florida

Improve water quality testing and public notification on Florida's beaches

Florida is home to countless miles of beaches and waves that attract hundreds of millions of visitors from around the globe every year to recreate in and enjoy. The Florida Healthy Beaches Program, administered by the Florida Department of Health and local county health departments, is tasked with testing beach waters for enterococci bacteria and promptly notifying the public when elevated bacteria levels are present. Unfortunately, in practice and implementation, Florida's beach water monitoring and public notification varies on a county by county basis, leaving beachgoers vulnerable to getting sick at the beach, or worse, from recreating in Florida's ocean waters. 

SB338 / HB165 Safe Waterways Act, bipartisan legislation introduced in the Florida Senate by Senator Lori Berman (D-Boynton Beach) and Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez (R-Doral) and the Florida House of Representatives by Representative Peggy Gossett-Seidman (R-Boca Raton), aims to further protect public health and ensure consistency in beach water quality monitoring and notification by: 

  • Initiating the transfer of bacteriological sampling for beach waters from the Department of Health to the Department of Environmental Protection by July 1, 2025
  • Requiring the adoption and enforcement rules to protect the health, safety, and welfare of persons using beach waters and public bathing places
  • Requiring the immediate issuance of health advisories when a water body fails to meet water quality standards
  • Requiring the closure of waterbodies that fail to meet standards if deemed it necessary
  • Prescribing conspicuous signage requirements for health advisories
  • Establishing a public statewide interagency database for the reporting of fecal indicator bacteria data

Surfrider's Florida network is working alongside water quality advocates throughout the state to advance this legislation to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of beachgoers in Florida.