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These 10 Beaches In The U.S. Have The Highest Levels Of Bacteria

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A recently released report by the Surfrider Foundation has determined the ten beaches in the U.S. with the highest levels of bacteria. Over 8,500 samples were collected from 478 beaches across the country over the span of 2021. Beach turnout has increased by up to 300% in some states over the last two years, highlighting the importance of maintaining good water quality.

Notice Sign For Bacteria In Water At Beach

When testing the water from each location, the Surfrider Foundation defined a high bacteria rate as 20% or more of the samples collected from a beach failing to meet state health standards. Many samples that failed to meet health standards came from areas affected by stormwater runoff, such as creeks and rivers, or from beaches near freshwater outlets. According to the report, stormwater runoff is the leading cause of beach shutdowns and advisories in the United States. So which areas are most affected?

Drainage Pipes From Beach Leading Into Ocean

10 Beaches With The Highest Bacteria Levels

  • Nawiliwili Stream at Kalapaki Bay in Hawaii – Swimming here is not recommended. The samples collected had a high bacteria rate of 100%, meaning every sample collected failed to meet health standards.
  • Chocolates Surf Break in Hawaii –The samples collected had a high bacteria rate of 95%. Yet, people consider the area a great surfing location.
  • Maliko Bay in Hawaii – A sandless, rocky beach that not many people visit. This is probably for the best, as samples collected had a high bacteria rate of 36%.
  • Linda Mar Beach in California – Also known as the Pacifica State Beach, this area is popular for surfing. Samples collected had an high bacteria rate of 81%, but for some, the waves are worth the risk.
Linda Mar Beach
  • Squaxin (Priest Point) Park in Washington – Recently renamed to honor the Squaxin Island Tribe, the samples collected at the beach at this park had a high bacteria rate of 21%.
  • Playa Lala in Puerto Rico – A popular beach with calm waters for swimming. Samples collected here had a high bacteria rate of 26%.
  • Park View Kayak Launch in Miami Beach, Florida – This is a known issue to locals. The water has been under a no-contact advisory in the past. Samples collected here had an high bacteria rate of 83%.
Priest Point Beach
Squaxin Park Beach
  • Ballard Park in Florida – A popular park with a pavilion, boat ramps, and tennis courts. The samples collected here had a high bacteria rate of 58%.
  • Sagg Pond at Sagg Main Beach in New York – A popular spot for kayaking and paddle boarding. The area has also had problems with toxic algae blooms in the past. Samples collected here had a high bacteria rate of 50%.
  • North Hampton State Beach in New Hampshire – A sandy beach with metered parking and a bathhouse. Samples collected here had a high bacteria rate of 24%.
Sagg Main Beach
Sagg Main Beach

So, What Does This Mean For Beach Goers This Year?

The report may alarm beach enthusiasts in the U.S., but it does not provide any data outlining instances of health issues related to bacteria levels in the water that was tested. However, according to the EPA, most swimming-related illnesses at the beach are typically not very serious and do not affect long-term health. The most common illness picked up from swimming in bacteria-ridden water is gastroenteritis. The illness can take many forms and typically includes at least one of the following: Headache, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, stomachache, and nausea.

Warning Sign For Bacteria In Water At Beach

Travelers hoping to hit the sand this summer are advised to check their beach destination’s water quality online before heading out. Other safety measures include avoiding beaches with visible drainage pipes after heavy rain, keeping wounds out of the water, not swallowing any water, and washing hands after playing in the sand.

Father and Daughter Playing in Sand

While certain places should be avoided altogether, such as Nawiliwili Stream, some beach lovers are willing to take the risk in other locations, such as the popular surfing such Linda Mar Beach. As beach visitations continue to increase, travelers should take care to prioritize their health and safety, regardless of the bacteria rate awaiting them.

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