Learn more about our Water Quality Monitoring Program:
The Florida Department of Health’s Healthy Beaches program currently tests for bacteria levels on a weekly basis at beach locations. However, many popular recreation areas, particularly in Biscayne Bay, are still not monitored.
Therefore, through generous grant funding and sponsorship, Miami Waterkeeper now monitors an additional 7 sites weekly for bacteria levels where recreation occurs but testing is lacking. We collect these samples at the same locations every week and process the samples at a lab space located at Ransom Everglades School.
Both the Healthy Beaches and the Miami Waterkeeper samples take approximately 24 hours to run. Therefore, while sampling typically occurs on Monday mornings, the latest test results are available on Tuesday afternoon. If a site has high bacteria levels, we will re-run our site’s samples again every day until the issue is resolved.
How do I find the latest water quality information? Check out Swim Guide!
The results of our sampling efforts will be posted on our Swim Guide app, along with the monitoring data from the state of Florida's Department of Health Healthy Beaches program. You can download the app here and visit the website here.
Miami Waterkeeper updates Miami-Dade and Broward testing locations from the Florida Healthy Beaches program and our own results on Swim Guide, a website and app that will help you to identify at a glance which beaches are safe for swimming (Green) and which have current water quality problems (Red). Swim Guide offers an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that lets you see a map of beaches in your area and their current water quality status.
Swim Guide will also let you:
- Discover a wide variety of beaches and other swimming location
- Get walking, driving, or transit directions to the beach of your choice
- Bookmark beaches for easy access
- Share your love for the best swimming holes on social media
- Help protect your waterway by reporting pollution or environmental concerns
What is the bacteria you’re testing for?
We are testing for Enterococcus bacteria it is considered a “fecal indicator bacteria” that has been found to be associated commonly with wastewater. It can be easily cultured and help predict human health risks associated with contaminated waters, and therefore is often used as a proxy for swimming safety.
The EPA has set the following standards for water considered safe for swimming:
0-70 cfu/mL enterococci per sample: Safe for swimming
70+ cfu/mL enterococci per sample: Not safe for swimming
What is a swim advisory?
When certain levels of bacteria are exceeded, a beach will appear “red” on Swim Guide. This advisory is a caution for swimmers to avoid the water in a particular area to avoid exposure to potential pathogens and toxins associated with Enterococcus.
The Healthy Beaches program issues no-swim advisories if there are two failed tests in a row at a beach. However, Swim Guide marks a beach as red if it fails even once. Therefore, you may see a beach listed as "red" in Swim Guide with no state-issued swimming advisory.
In a case where a non-bacteria source is compromising water quality, such as a chemical spill, sewage leak or red tide, a beach may be put into a "special status". Sites marked red for this reason will have a no-swim icon in a red triangle, as opposed to the typical red circle.
When available test results are more than approximately a week old, Swim Guide designates that beach in terms of its "historical status" and will appear a faded color of green, yellow, or red. Beaches with a historical pass rate 95% of the time will be marked as green. Beaches with a historical pass rate of 60%-95% of the time are marked as yellow. Finally, beaches with a historical pass rate of 59% or under will be marked as red.
Interested in water quality near you? You can sponsor a testing location and advertise on the Swim Guide app!
Swim Guide has become a popular tool for water lovers in South Florida. In fact, recently 4 out of the top 5 visited sites in Swim Guide were in the Miami area, with Haulover Beach reaching the top spot! And that is out of over 7,000 Swim Guide sites across the world. If you would like to support the costs of testing an additional beach site, or if you would like to support already-existing sites, we can recognize you or your organization in the app itself through a banner advertisement that occurs when users view beach sites.
This program is made possible by the generous support from: