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  • In 2012, EPA modified its recommended Recreational Water Quality Criteria.
  • In 2013, EPA updated its beach sanitary survey manual.
  • In 2013, EPA developed a rapid microbiological method for ambient waters.
  • Currently, EPA is revising National Beach Guidance and Required Performance Criteria for Grants. Comments are due May 28, 2014.
  • Later in 2014, a public notice to revise state bacteria water quality standards is expected.


Recreational Water Quality Criteria




The new recommendations include:

  • A short-term and long-term measure of bacteria levels that are to be used together to ensure that water quality is properly evaluated.
  • Stronger recommendations for coastal water quality so public health is protected similarly in both coastal and fresh waters.
  • A new rapid testing method that states can use to determine if water quality is safe within hours of water samples being taken.
  • An early-alert approach for states to use to quickly issue swimming advisories for the public.
  • Tools that allow states to predict water quality problems and identify sources of pollution, as well as to develop criteria for specific beaches.

The new recommended criteria replaces the single sample maximum. There is 30-day averaging if there are at least 10 samples. Enterococci is applicable to marine class 3 (recreational) waters. Fecal Coliform is still applicable to marine class 2 (shellfish harvesting) waters. The thresholds are 60 cfu and 70 cfu, for 2 different illness rates.


Beach Sanitary Survey Manual




The 2013 Beach Sanitary Survey Manual provides managers with tools to investigate sources of fecal contamination on beaches.


Rapid Microbiological Method


EPA is making available a method that uses a genetic quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) approach to detect Enterococci in ambient waters (both marine and fresh waters). The method will be updated following multi-laboratory validation in marine and fresh ambient waters. The method is not required at this time but recommended. Samples can be analyzed in as little as 3 hours.


National Beach Guidance and Required Performance Criteria for Grants



The draft National Beach Guidance and Required Performance Criteria for Grants revisions is available for comment. A major goal of this revision is to encourage a more comprehensive approach to tiered monitoring and notification plans by using better historical information and new tools (such as modeling and rapid methods). EPA has updated scientific and technical references and incorporated key aspects from the 2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria. The Agency is also emphasizing the use of tools – such as sanitary surveys – to help evaluate and manage beaches. Comments should be emailed no later than May 28, 2014 to [email protected]



FDEP Progress



FDEP convened a Technical Advisory Committee (BACTAC) to review the bacteria standards. A public notice is expected later this year.


Lisa B. Beever, PhD, AICP


Charlotte Harbor NEP