Ocean County Press Release
Ocean County Health Department Water Quality Monitoring Program Runs Throughout Summer

Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari stated from mid-May through mid-September, the Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) monitors the water quality at public bathing beaches in Ocean County.

"We want to ensure the health and safety of residents and visitors alike as they enjoy the beautiful beaches of Ocean County," said Vicari, who serves as liaison to tourism.

Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health, added, "Our beach areas have worked extremely hard to make sure they were open this year for all to enjoy. The Ocean County Health Department continually works with the New Jersey Department of Health and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection throughout the year to make sure our beaches are safe for swimming and enjoying during the summer months."

Both Freeholder Director Vicari and Freeholder Little pointed out that the Ocean County Health Department has an established process in place from the time the water samples from the ocean, bay and rivers are taken to having the water tested and reporting results.

Salt and brackish (river, bay) water is tested for enterococcus, which is a bacteria found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. The standard for the amount of enterococcus that is allowed in a sample of salt water is 104 colonies per 100 ml water. If a sample exceeds the standard, an advisory is posted and the beach is re-sampled immediately. If the re-sample is within the standard the beach is allowed to remain open. If the re-sample exceeds the standard; the responsible party for the beach area is notified to close the beach to swimming and bathing. The beach will be re-sampled every day until the sample falls under the standard, only then may the bathing area re-open.

"In addition, a Sanitary Survey of the beach must be completed on a beach area that has been closed before re-opening. The OCHD inspector verifies, after inspecting all areas, that the beach is safe and clean and people may swim in that specific area. "Although there were a couple of advisories this summer, there have been no closures during the summer of 2014," added both Freeholders.

Freeholder Director Vicari said that all bathers and beachgoers need to heed any warning issued. He urges people to use caution and common sense when swimming.

"Everyone's safety is of utmost concern," he said. "We ask that all people swim in areas with lifeguards present and please listen to lifeguards and officials at the beach. If you are unsure if a beach has lifeguards, you can call the municipal office where the beach is located.

"When you enter the beach area, look for any advisories, such as water quality issues, no lifeguard on duty, beware of rip currents, etc.," Vicari added.

Freeholder Little stated that the Ocean County Health Department recommends against swimming for at least 24 hours after a rainfall event at all bay, lake, and river bathing beaches. In addition, Freeholder Little asks residents and visitors to please clean up after their pets, especially dogs. Animal waste can be carried into our waters through rainfall, etc."

"As in any situation, we tell people, ‘If you see something of potential concern or a perceived health or safety risk, say something," Little said.

The Ocean County Health Department posts water quality reports and beach closures on its website at www.ochd.org and offers a hotline available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for up to the minute reports. There is also a wealth of information on the website for residents. If you want to check on a status of a bathing beach, you can call the OCHD Water Quality Hotline at 732-341-9700, ext.7776 or at 1-800-342-9738, ext. 7776.

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