Texas beach fecal bacteria levels: Check this map by Texas Beach Watch before you swim

If you’re headed to the beach this weekend, it’s important to know what you’re swimming in.

An interactive map by Texas Beach Watch allows you to check the levels of Enterococcus (fecal) bacteria along Texas recreational beaches.

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According to Texas Beach Watch, "Enterococcus bacteria thrive in water contaminated with sewage or storm water runoff, and scientists often use the bacteria to indicate the presence of harder to detect, disease-causing microorganisms."

The program funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas General Land Office monitors Enterococcus bacteria levels in the water along beaches in Aransas, Brazoria, Cameron, Galveston, Harris, and Jefferson, Matagorda, Nueces and San Patricio counties.

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When Enterococcus bacteria levels exceed standards established by the EPA, the Texas General Land Offices works with local governments to alert the public so they can make an informed decision about swimming in those waters.

Texas Beach Watch says a water quality advisory can be issued when bacteria levels in the water could cause someone to become sick, and swimming is not reccommended.

The public can view bacteria level data in an interactive map at TexasBeachWatch.com. Markers indicate low, moderate, and high bacteria levels detected in water sample tests. 

Even if high bacteria levels are detected at one beach access point, they may be low at an access point just a few blocks away.

Screenshot of Texas Beach Watch on May 26.

As of testing on May 23, Texas Beach Watch was reporting eight "high" areas along Galveston Island beaches and four "high" areas along Bolivar Peninsula beaches. However, there were several "low" bacteria locations on Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula as well.

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The website also lets you set up alerts to known when the conditions at specific beach locations change. Click here to learn more.

If high bacteria levels warrant an advisory, the water at the beach will be sampled every 24 hours until bacteria levels fall within a safe range.