Swimmers and water sports enthusiasts are advised to start checking for swim advisory signs at Louisiana beaches, as the statewide BEACH monitoring program resumes this week.
The Louisiana BEACH Monitoring Program is a partnership between the Department of Health and Hospitals, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Louisiana Office of State Parks, Cameron Parish Police Jury, The Town of Grand Isle and Lafourche Parish Police Jury. The program monitors bacteria levels of water at 13 beach locations from May through October.
The BEACH Monitoring Program began last year at Cypremort, Fontainebleau and Grand Isle state parks and this year has expanded to include Fourchon, Holly Beach, Hackberry, Rutherford, Martin, Dung , Little Florida, Gulf Breeze, Grand Isle and Constance beaches.
LDH public health workers will test water samples from each location on a weekly basis, monitoring bacteria levels to determine whether water is safe for swimming. If high bacteria levels are detected, LDH will issue a media advisory and a swim advisory sign will be posted near the shoreline, advising beachgoers to refrain from swimming until bacteria levels are in compliance. LDH will continue testing water at that location and will advise the public when bacteria levels are back in compliance. However, the public should be aware that water bodies are never completely risk free and there is always a slight risk of bacterial contamination.
High bacteria levels can happen because of stormwater runoff, area livestock and wildlife or human sewage. These bacteria indicate the possible presence of disease-causing organisms that can cause sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping or fever. Swallowing the water or dunking your head underwater increases the risk of illness.
Please note that any swim advisory issued is NOT a closure of the beach or other facilities at that beach location. All areas remain open for boating and land-based activities when a swim advisory is in effect. The advisories will be lifted once further testing shows water bacteria levels are acceptably lowered.
For more information on the program or to check the status of monitoring at the different locations, please visit http://www.ophbeachmonitoring.com/