IT’S MORE THAN JUST A DAY AT THE BEACH FOR
OCEAN COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT WATER TESTERS!
(Toms River) – It’s that time of year. Time for the Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) team of water testers to gear up for another season of inspecting the county’s public recreational bathing facilities. The Ocean County Health Department Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program (CCMP) has been around since 1970 and is one of the nation’s longest running and most comprehensive beach testing programs.
“It’s a big job every summer season, but the Ocean County Health Department will once again monitor most of Ocean County’s ocean, bay, river and lake beaches along with swimming pools, hot tubs and water parks,” says Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little. “The Ocean County Health Department inspects water quality every week at 68 public bathing beaches throughout the county from mid-May through Labor Day 2019,” says Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health.
Each week the OCHD tests water samples from the county’s salt and freshwater swimming beaches. The water is tested for two types of bacteria – enterococcus and E.coli. If the results come back with higher than acceptable levels, the water is immediately retested and the town notified. After the second high reading, the beach is closed and tested daily until bacteria levels return to normal.
Closures are infrequent but typically occur after a heavy rainfall. Water runoff washes animal waste, lawn care products and other bacteria into the water.
“Everyone can pitch in to help make a difference to keep our waterways and beaches clean by picking up after our pets and not throwing trash or cigarette butts onto the streets,” explains Daniel E. Regenye, Ocean County Health Department Public Health Coordinator. “This waste eventually empties into lakes, rivers and the bay and contributes to our beach closings.”
Help protect your health while swimming at the beach by taking these simple steps:
Observe swimming advisories; do not enter the water at a beach under a swimming advisory.
Avoid swallowing water when swimming; natural waters may contain disease-causing organisms that can cause gastrointestinal illness if swallowed.
Avoid swimming for a few days after heavy rainfall; bacteria levels are likely to be high and disease-causing organisms are more likely to be present after rainfall due to pollution from land runoff and other sources.
Prevent direct contact of cuts and open wounds; natural waters may contain disease-causing organisms that may cause skin infections.
Do not swim if you are ill or have a weakened immune system; some organisms are opportunistic and may only cause illness when you are already ill or your immune system is weakened.
Shower with soap after swimming; showering helps remove potential disease-causing organisms.
Swim away from fishing piers, pipes, drains, and water flowing from storm drains onto a beach.
Do not dispose of trash, pet waste, or dirty diapers on the beach.
Regenye adds, “The Ocean County Health Department posts water quality reports for every beach we monitor 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 which can be obtained by calling 732-341-9700 ext. 7776 or at 1-800-342-9738, ext 7776.”
Little continues, “Visitors from all over the country and Ocean County come to enjoy the 44 miles of beautiful beaches and the many other recreational waterways and the Ocean County Health Department wants to ensure everyone is protected and safe.”
For more information regarding the OCHD Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program, please call 732-341-9700 ext. 7685 or follow the Health Department on Twitter@OCpublichealth or like us on Facebook. Also, please check out our new website at www.phu2.org, to access and learn more about our Public Health is You Too! campaign to help equip you to take simple steps to improve your health.