Recreational Water and Beach Safety Information Sources from the Virginia Water Monitoring Council, 5/21/15

The following list of resources on recreational water use and safety was provided by the Virginia Water Monitoring Council (VWMC) on May 21, 2015.   The VWMC announcement was sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Virginia Department of Health as a grant to the VWMCPlease feel free to forward this information.  When forwarding, please acknowledge the VWMC.   For more information about the VWMC, please visit

Healthy and Safe Swimming WeekMay 18-24, 2015
This year’s theme is “Make a Healthy Splash: Share the Fun, not the Germs.” — This week focuses on simple steps swimmers and pool operators can take to help ensure a healthy and safe swimming experience, and on prevention of drowning, pool chemical injuries, and outbreaks of illnesses.  It highlights swimmer hygiene and the need for swimmers to take an active role in helping to protect themselves and prevent the spread of germs.  The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site has promotion materials (videos, podcasts, posters, fact sheets, mobile apps, etc.) to educate the public; online at Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is also promoting Healthy and Safe Swimming Week; information is available online at  A statewide press release, issued 5/18/15, is available online at

Beach Monitoring in Virginia
Bacteria levels in beach water are monitored at 46 public beaches on the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean of Virginia during the swimming season (May-September). When bacteria levels exceed safe levels, VDH issues swimming advisories to inform the public of health risks from other disease-causing organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites.  Beach monitoring results are available at  You can also Follow VDH’s Beach Monitoring Program on Twitter (@VDHBeach) to receive weekly results and swimming advisories:

For links to information about current swimming advisories and monitored beaches, beach advisory and monitoring data, links to local beaches, local health department contacts, and special projects, please visit

“Beaches and Bacteria”
This article was updated in January 2014 and is available at  It was first published by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Virginia Water Central (August 2004).  The article describes the following:

  • The difference between a beach advisory and a beach closure
  • The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act
  • The types of indicator organisms monitored at Virginia’s beaches
  • Virginia’s bacteria standards
  • Microbial Source Tracking

“Safely Enjoying Virginia’s Natural Waters”
This brochure, published by the Virginia Department of Health, covers topics such as the following:

  • What organisms are in natural waters and where do they come from?
  • What are the health risks and how are they determined?
  • Why avoid natural water after a heavy rain?
  • What you can do to protect yourself.

Available (as PDF) online at (also available in Spanish).


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