If you’re heading to a Texas beach this summer, you’ll want to check fecal bacteria levels before heading to shore.
A map provided by the Texas General Land Office, which oversees some public lands and beaches, monitors levels of fecal bacteria along the Texas coast, collecting samples and testing them for contamination.
And, while the COVID-19 pandemic may have kept many Texans indoors last year, that doesn’t mean the beaches have gotten cleaner.
In fact, according to an analysis by the Environment Texas Research and Policy Center, 55 of 61 Texas beaches they studied had potentially dangerous levels of bacteria for at least one day in 2020.
Of those 61 Texas beaches, the analysis indicated that 31 had at least 25% of “potentially dangerous days.”
Whether you swim, dive or wade through these contaminated waters, contaminants can still pose health risks. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, contact with water contaminated with faecal bacteria can cause “gastrointestinal illness (such as diarrhea or vomiting), respiratory illness and other health problems.”
Infections of the skin, ears, eyes, sinuses and wounds can also result from exposure to contaminated water, the EPA website says.
Sources of water contamination can include sewage treatment plants, septic tanks, runoff, boating waste, humans and animals, according to a previous KSAT 12 report.
“Water samples are collected from 164 stations at approximately 61 recreational beaches along the Texas coast in Aransas, Brazoria, Cameron, Galveston, Jefferson, Kleberg, Matagorda, Nueces and San Patricio counties.” , according to the Texas Beach Watch website.
Samples are collected weekly from May to September and every two weeks the rest of the year, except in March when “when weekly sampling is done to coincide with spring break,” the website says.
Click here to view the Texas Beach Watch map.
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