Published On: Thu, Jun 15th, 2017

All Clear: Beaches Reopened After Bacteria Infected Water Quality

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy: Jack Rubin

As summer kicks off, more locals head to Boca Raton’s beaches. However, increased recreational use of the beaches and summer weather may spell trouble for the water quality. The city of Boca Raton suspended swimming at all beaches from Wednesday until Thursday at noon due to high bacterial levels at two beaches.

Boca Raton’s beaches remained open to the public, but the water was off limits. The city made a decision to reopen the waters on Thursday afternoon after water sampling from Wednesday showed bacterial levels in the “good” category. Per the city, the health advisory has been lifted.

Water tests from Spanish River Park and South Inlet Park showed abnormally high levels of enterococci bacteria. According to the Florida Department of Health, “good” quality ocean water contains 0-35 enterococci parts per 100 milliliters of water. “Moderate” water contains 36-70 parts per 100 milliliters, and “poor” quality water contains greater than 71 parts per 100 milliliters.

The water sampled from Spanish River and South Inlet Parks contained 80 and 190 parts per 100 milliliters, respectively. As of June 12, those figures are the highest in Palm Beach County by a wide margin. For comparison, 7 of the 15 beaches tested yielded samples with less than 10 enterococci parts per 100 milliliters.

Such bacteria in the water can cause diseases and it is particularly dangerous if consumed by the body. It is also harmful if it makes contact with an open wound or cut. The city was fortunate to catch these high bacterial levels in water testing.

The causes of Boca Raton’s spike in bacterial levels remains unknown. In the Florida Health Department’s advisory, they stated, “Causes… are generally associated with wildlife, heavy recreational usage, high surf from high winds and high tides or runoff following heavy rains.”

Rainfall is the likely cause after the beginning of June saw flood warnings issued for southern Palm Beach County. Parts of Boca Raton received more than 10 inches of rain, according to reports.

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