Choices in recreational water quality monitoring: new opportunities and health risk trade-offs

Environmental Science & Technology
By: , and 



With the recent release of new recreational water quality monitoring criteria, there are more options for regulatory agencies seeking to protect beachgoers from waterborne pathogens. Included are methods that can reduce analytical time, providing timelier estimates of water quality, but the application of these methods has not been examined at most beaches for expectation of health risk and management decisions. In this analysis, we explore health and monitoring outcomes expected at Lake Michigan beaches using protocols for indicator bacteria including culturable Escherichia coli (E. coli; EC), culturable enterococci (ENT), and enterococci as analyzed by qPCR (QENT). Correlations between method results were generally high, except at beaches with historically high concentrations of EC. The “beach action value” was exceeded most often when using EC or ENT as the target indicator; QENT exceeded the limit far less frequently. Measured water quality between years was varied. Although methods with equivalent health expectation have been established, the lack of relationship among method outcomes and annual changes in mean indicator bacteria concentrations complicates the decision-making process. The monitoring approach selected by beach managers may be a combination of available tools that maximizes timely health protection, cost efficiency, and collaboration among beach jurisdictions.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Choices in recreational water quality monitoring: new opportunities and health risk trade-offs
Series title Environmental Science & Technology
DOI 10.1021/es304408y
Volume 47
Issue 7
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher ACS Publications
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 9 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Environmental Science and Technology
First page 3073
Last page 3081
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