We all love a day at the beach, be it surfing, swimming, or just cooling off in the water. Unfortunately, many of our beaches and coastal waters get polluted from stormwater runoff, sewage spills, and failing septic systems and cess pools. We’re also seeing health threats from recreational exposure to toxic algae blooms worsen in many parts of the country, especially in coastal bays and freshwater lakes. Exposure to this pollution can mean that a day at the beach could result in a week of painful ear infections, upset stomach, sore throats or worse.
So how can we protect ourselves while still getting to enjoy our beloved coastlines? Know before you go!
Use Surfrider's new one-stop-shop resource to check the water quality at your local beach.
All coastal states that receive BEACH Act funding are required to test bacteria levels at public beaches. Yet due to funding limitations (click here to ask Congress to allocate more funding to test your local beaches!) not all beaches are covered at all times. Thankfully, volunteer programs like Surfrider’s Blue Water Task Force water quality testing program help make up the difference so beach goers have more information available to protect their health and the health of their families.
It can be challenging to figure out exactly where to look to find current beach water quality conditions in any given state. The agencies responsible for monitoring beaches vary state by state and often include some mix of state, county and local jurisdictions. To make relevant water quality information and health advisories easier to access, we’ve assembled key resources for coastal beach water quality monitoring programs in one place!
Just click this link, navigate to your state, and select "Water Qualiy Data and Advisories" to check water quality conditions and advisories posted at your favorite beaches. Some states also have more detailed information by city and county. Please explore to learn more about the water testing programs active in your town!
For more ways to stay safe at the beach, please also remember to:
- Avoid going into the water after it rains, especially after heavy rains.
- Swim away from storm drains and other discharges of freshwater on the beach (rivers, streams, etc..).
- Rinse your hands with freshwater before you eat and shower off before leaving the beach.
- Heed swim advisories and harmful algal bloom signs.
- Report any illnesses you experience with local health authorities and notify local Surfrider Chapters by using Surfrider's Ocean Illness Reporting Tool.
- Use sun management and a broad spectrum reef friendly sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun and marine life from harmful chemicals.
- Admire but keep a safe distance from marine life (it’s the law to stay at least 50 yards away from marine mammals, for their protection and yours).
- Take action at home to support clean water in your community and at your favorite beach. Learn how here.