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Published on January 30, 2018. Last modified on March 18, 2020
Beach Advisory Page Information Explained
State Statues & AB 411In accordance with State statutes and Assembly Bill 411 (AB411), the Monterey County Health Department monitors ocean water at public beaches and water contact sports areas. Water samples are collected from sites that are:
- visited by over 50,000 people annually; and
- adjacent to storm drains (including rivers, creeks and streams).
1. What's the difference between Opened, Closed, Under an Advisory?
The first thing you will see on the page is status of the beach. It will either be open, closed, under an advisory, or under a rain advisory.
Open: A beach is marked as open when sample results are below the state standards or there is no know contamination.
Closed: A beach is closed when there is a spill or contaminate from a known source.
Advisory: An advisory happens when a beach is sampled and the bacteria levels have exceeded health guidelines. The public is advised not to have ocean water contact at this time.
Rain Advisory: This is posted when it has rained. The public is advised not to have any contact with the ocean water for three days after the last rain event.
2. What are the Analysis Name & State Standards?
Enterococcus is a bacteria that is commonly found in the intestines of humans. The state standard for Enterococcus is no more than104 MPN per 100 ml. If a sample exceeds that amount it will be noted in red and the beach will be posted with a closure notice. The 30 day log mean average of greater than 35 will exceed the state standard for Enterococcus. The 30 day log mean average is the average of a minimum of 5 samples over a 30 day period.
Fecal Coliform is a bacteria that generally originate in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. The state standard for Fecal Coliform is is no more than 400 MPN per 100 ml. If a beach exceeds the state standard it will noted in red and the beach will be posted with a closure notice. A 30 day log mean average of greater than 200 will exceed the state standard for Fecal Coliform. The 30 day log mean average is the average of a minimum of 5 samples over a 30 day period.
Total Coliform-QTotal Coliform-Q is a commonly used indicator of sanitary quality of foods and water. Coliforms can be found in the aquatic environment, in soil and on vegetation; they are universally present in large numbers in the feces of warm-blooded animals. While coliforms themselves are not normally causes of serious illness, they are easy to culture, and their presence is used to indicate that other pathogenic organisms of fecal origin may be present.
The State standard for Total Coliform-Q is no more than 10,000 MPN per 100ml. If a beach exceeds the state standard is will be noted in red and the beach will be posted with a closure notice. The 30 day log mean average of greater than 1000 will exceed the state standard for Total Coliform-Q.The 30 day log mean average is the average of a minimum of 5 samples over a 30 day period.
3. What does Single Sample Criteria mean?
Single Sample Criteria (# Bact. /100 ml) - This is the maximum amount allowed per the State Standard. Amounts that exceed the limit will result in closure of the beach.
4. What does 30 Day Log mean?30 Day Log. Mean Average (# Bact./100 ml) - The 30 day log mean average is the average of a minimum of 5 samples over a 30 day period.
30 Day Log Mean Average Criteria (# Bact./100 ml) -This is the allowed limit per the State Standard.
Beach Testing Requirements & AB 411
In accordance with State statutes (Assembly Bill 411), the Monterey County Health Department monitors ocean water at public beaches and water contact sports areas. Water samples are collected from sites that are: 1) visited by over 50,000 people annually; and 2) adjacent to storm drains (including rivers, creeks and streams). These samples are analyzed for bacteriological "indicator" organisms. Elevated concentrations of indicator organisms are suggestive of contamination by human sewage and other wastes which may result in human disease. When bacterial indicator organisms exceed the State guidelines for beaches, the County Health Department takes appropriate actions to ensure that the public is safe, and that the causes of contamination are addressed.
For more information about the AB 411, click here.
Water Quality Standards for Public Beaches
Ocean water quality standards for public beaches establish numeric limits for total coliform bacteria, fecal coliform bacteria, and Enterococcus bacteria. These organisms do not necessarily cause disease in humans. They are good indicators of microbiological contamination and are used as a substitute by health authorities for disease causing organisms (such as hepatitis, dysentery, cholera, etc) that are likely to be present in sewage but are difficult to analyze for directly. State-wide standards establish levels of bacteria that should not be exceeded at public beaches or public water contact sports areas.
Contact with contaminated ocean water may cause illness
Do not swim in or have contact with water coming from storm drains. Such water may be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, protozoa, or chemicals, and contact with storm drain water may cause illness. Do not enter water after rainstorms as bacterial levels increase with the increased runoff into the bay.
When are beaches sampled?
Beaches are sampled Monthly from November to April, then weekly between April 1 and October 31 of each calendar year.