daveynin via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Safe for swimming?

Pollution at our beaches and how to prevent it
Americans love clean water. Every year, millions of us flock to our waterways to swim, surf, or go tubing, kayaking or fishing. That’s why the federal Clean Water Act set a goal of making all our waterways safe for swimming. Yet our research finds that all too often our beaches are still plagued with pollution, and millions of swimmers get sick every year. To dramatically reduce this pollution, we must boldy invest in improving our water infrastructure.

Table shows beaches with most potentially unsafe days in 2020.

Use the dropdown below to see which beaches in were potentially unsafe for swimming on the most days last year.

Use the dropdown below to see which beaches in were potentially unsafe for swimming on the most days last year.

Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Spanish Cove Baldwin County 14 37 38%
Orange Beach Waterfront Park Baldwin County 12 38 32%
Mary Ann Nelson Beach Baldwin County 10 24 42%
May Day Park Baldwin County 10 32 31%
Fowl River at Highway 193 Mobile County 10 33 30%
Dog River at Alba Club Mobile County 9 34 26%
Kee Avenue Baldwin County 9 35 26%
Volanta Avenue Baldwin County 6 31 19%
Camp Beckwith Baldwin County 6 52 12%
Pirate's Cove Baldwin County 5 32 16%
Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Marina Del Rey at Mother's Beach*† Los Angeles County 165 307 54%
Inner Cabrillo Beach*† Los Angeles County 141 253 56%
Santa Monica State Beach*† Los Angeles County 120 299 40%
Imperial Beach*† San Diego County 102 221 46%
Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge*† San Diego County 101 179 56%
Topanga State Beach† Los Angeles County 93 255 36%
Border Field State Park*† San Diego County 78 178 44%
Long Beach* Los Angeles County 77 148 52%
North Imperial Beach† San Diego County 58 205 28%
Imperial Beach Pier Area† San Diego County 54 162 33%

* Beach has more than one associated testing site, which may affect number of potentially unsafe days.

† Some beach water quality tests assessed E. coli for marine water, for which no Beach Action Value is available. Those tests were not considered in calculating potentially unsafe days.

Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Calf Pasture Beach* Fairfield County 7 18 39%
Fort Hale Park Beach* New Haven County 7 20 35%
Cummings Beach* Fairfield County 6 15 40%
Green Harbor Beach New London County 6 16 38%
Shady Beach* Fairfield County 5 15 33%
Lighthouse Point Beach* New Haven County 5 20 25%
Seabright Beach Fairfield County 4 14 29%
Seaside Park Beach* Fairfield County 4 14 29%
Pear Tree Point Beach* Fairfield County 4 15 27%
Weed Beach* Fairfield County 4 15 27%

* Beach has more than one associated testing site, which may affect number of potentially unsafe days.

Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Slaughter Beach Sussex County 10 16 62%
Broadkill Beach Sussex County 3 16 19%
Rehoboth Beach at Rehoboth Ave. Sussex County 2 30 7%
Rehoboth Beach at Virginia Ave Sussex County 1 16 6%
Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
South Beach Monroe County 19 33 58%
Higgs Beach Monroe County 17 35 49%
Roosevelt Bridge Martin County 17 53 32%
Bayou Texar Escambia County 16 46 35%
Bayou Chico Escambia County 15 29 52%
Beach Drive Bay County 15 35 43%
Delwood Beach Bay County 15 35 43%
Carl Gray Park Bay County 14 35 40%
Miami Beach by 53rd St. Miami-Dade County 14 58 24%
Dupont Bridge Bay County 13 35 37%
Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Massengale Park Glynn County 12 49 24%
East Beach Glynn County 7 44 16%
5th St. Crossover Glynn County 7 46 15%
Jekyll Driftwood Beach Glynn County 6 45 13%
St. Simons Island Lighthouse Glynn County 6 45 13%
Tybee Island by Strand Ave. Chatham County 5 43 12%
Skidaway Narrows Chatham County 4 6 67%
Jekyll Island at South Dunes Glynn County 4 41 10%
Tybee Island by Polk St. Chatham County 4 43 9%
St. Simons Island by 12th St. Glynn County 4 44 9%
Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Kalapaki Beach Kauai County 10 44 23%
Ke'e Beach Kauai County 4 38 11%
Kahanamoku Beach* Honolulu County 4 48 8%
Laenani Park Honolulu County 3 5 60%
Kawaiku'i Beach Park Honolulu County 3 6 50%
Hanakao'o Park Maui County 3 27 11%
Lydgate State Park Kauai County 3 34 9%
Royal-Moana Beach Honolulu County 3 44 7%
Kailua Bay* Hawaii County 3 58 5%
Ice Pond Hawaii County 2 5 40%
Koloa Landing Kauai County 2 5 40%

* Beach has more than one associated testing site, which may affect number of potentially unsafe days.

Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Evanston Clark Beach Cook County 16 88 18%
Glencoe Park Beach Cook County 12 97 12%
North Point Marina Beach Lake County 11 58 19%
Waukegan South Beach Lake County 6 58 10%
Evanston South Beach Cook County 6 88 7%
Evanston Greenwood Beach Cook County 5 84 6%
Northwestern University Beach Cook County 5 88 6%
Highland Park Rosewood Beach Lake County 5 91 5%
Winnetka Tower Beach Cook County 5 92 5%
Illinois Beach State Park - South Beach Lake County 4 50 8%
Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Jeorse Park Beach I Lake County 27 84 32%
Washington Park Beach LaPorte County 25 114 22%
Jeorse Park Beach II Lake County 19 84 23%
Buffington Harbor Beach Lake County 18 84 21%
Indiana Dunes State Park East Beach Porter County 12 106 11%
Hammond Marina East Beach Lake County 12 107 11%
Whihala Beach West Lake County 11 109 10%
Indiana Dunes State Park West Beach Porter County 10 104 10%
Lake Street Beach Lake County 8 48 17%
Ogden Dunes West Beach Porter County 6 105 6%
Beach name Parish Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Rutherford Beach Cameron Parish 12 26 46%
Cypremort Point Beach St. Mary Parish 12 28 43%
Fontainebleau Beach St. Tammany Parish 11 26 42%
Lake Charles North Beach Calcasieu Parish 10 27 37%
Holly Beach - Site 6 Cameron Parish 9 21 43%
Holly Beach - Site 3 Cameron Parish 7 21 33%
Holly Beach - Site 4 Cameron Parish 7 21 33%
Gulf Breeze Beach Cameron Parish 6 21 29%
Holly Beach - Site 1 Cameron Parish 6 21 29%
Holly Beach - Site 5 Cameron Parish 6 21 29%
Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Goose Rocks* York County 14 26 54%
Riverside (Ogunquit) York County 10 19 53%
Little Beach York County 8 17 47%
Willard Beach Cumberland County 7 24 29%
Cape Neddick Beach York County 6 13 46%
Laite Beach Knox County 6 17 35%
Gooch's Beach* York County 5 15 33%
Lincolnville Beach Waldo County 5 18 28%
Higgins Beach* Cumberland County 4 13 31%
Ogunquit Beach York County 4 14 29%

* Beach has more than one associated testing site, which may affect number of potentially unsafe days.

Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Tolchester Estates Beach Kent County 5 8 62%
Brownie's Beach Calvert County 5 18 28%
North East Beach at Elk Neck State Park Cecil County 4 14 29%
North Beach Calvert County 4 17 24%
Ocean City Beach 4 Worcester County 3 35 9%
Tolchester Marina and Beach Kent County 2 6 33%
Scientists Cliffs Calvert County 2 7 29%
Oceanside Beach Site 3 Worcester County 2 15 13%
Breezy Point Calvert County 2 16 12%
Elm's Beach St. Mary's County 2 16 12%
Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
King's Beach* Essex County 64 85 75%
Tenean Beach Suffolk County 29 85 34%
Wollaston Beach at Channing Street Norfolk County 23 85 27%
Wollaston Beach at Milton Street Norfolk County 19 85 22%
Wollaston Beach at Rice Road Norfolk County 16 85 19%
Wollaston Beach at Sachem Street Norfolk County 15 85 18%
Keyes Beach Barnstable County 12 30 40%
Malibu Beach Suffolk County 12 85 14%
Town Landing by Coast Guard Barnstable County 11 26 42%
Sandy Beach Essex County 8 14 57%

* Beach has more than one associated testing site, which may affect number of potentially unsafe days.

Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Lake St. Clair Metropark Beach Macomb County 17 44 39%
St. Clair Shores Memorial Park Beach Macomb County 9 33 27%
East Bay Park Grand Traverse County 5 16 31%
Northport Bay Marina Leelanau County 5 17 29%
Sugar Island Township Park Chippewa County 4 8 50%
Conger-Lighthouse Beach St. Clair County 4 16 25%
Caseville County Park Huron County 4 17 24%
Sunset Park Grand Traverse County 4 18 22%
Gladstone Beach at Van Cleve Park Delta County 4 24 17%
Chrysler Park Beach St. Clair County 4 29 14%
Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Grand Portage Bay - Site 1† Cook County 10 44 23%
Grand Portage Bay - Site 2† Cook County 7 44 16%
Grand Marais Downtown Beach Cook County 4 15 27%
Grand Portage Bay - Site 2.5† Cook County 4 15 27%
Agate Bay Beach Lake County 4 17 24%
Burlington Bay Beach Lake County 4 17 24%
Leif Erikson Park Beach St. Louis County 4 27 15%
Grand Portage Bay - Site 1.5† Cook County 3 15 20%
Minnesota Point Harbor Side, 15th Street Beach St. Louis County 3 27 11%
Grand Portage Bay - Site 4† Cook County 3 44 7%
Grand Portage Bay - Site 6† Cook County 3 44 7%

† Beach is under tribal jurisdiction.

Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Gulfport West Beach Harrison County 53 85 62%
Pass Christian Central Beach Harrison County 47 79 59%
Pass Christian West Beach Harrison County 40 71 56%
Gulfport Central Beach Harrison County 36 68 53%
Waveland Beach Hancock County 35 67 52%
Gulfport East Beach Harrison County 34 66 52%
East Courthouse Road Beach Harrison County 34 67 51%
Long Beach Harrison County 32 68 47%
Bay St. Louis Beach Hancock County 31 65 48%
Pass Christian East Beach Harrison County 30 62 48%
Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
New Castle Town Beach* Rockingham County 8 26 31%
North Hampton State Beach* Rockingham County 8 30 27%
Wallis Sands Beach at Wallis Road* Rockingham County 5 26 19%
Hampton Beach State Park* Rockingham County 3 25 12%
Northside Park* Rockingham County 2 7 29%
Bass Beach* Rockingham County 1 6 17%
Jenness Beach at Cable Road* Rockingham County 1 14 7%
North Beach* Rockingham County 1 14 7%
Jenness State Beach* Rockingham County 1 26 4%

* Beach has more than one associated testing site, which may affect number of potentially unsafe days.

Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Seaside Park Borough at 5th Ave. Bay Front* Ocean County 14 30 47%
Long Beach Township Bay Beach* Ocean County 4 14 29%
Surf City Bay Beach* Ocean County 4 17 24%
Wildwood City at Bennett Ave.* Cape May County 3 18 17%
Brooklyn Ave. Bay Beach* Ocean County 3 19 16%
Sea Isle City at 34th St. Cape May County 2 17 12%
Cape May City at Congress* Cape May County 2 18 11%
Atlantic City at St. James Atlantic County 1 12 8%
Long Beach Township at Loveladies Lane Ocean County 1 13 8%
Long Beach Township at Stockton* Ocean County 1 14 7%

* Beach has more than one associated testing site, which may affect number of potentially unsafe days.

Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Ontario Beach* Monroe County 34 79 43%
Woodlawn Beach State Park* Erie County 30 109 28%
Valley Grove Beach Suffolk County 23 54 43%
Hamburg Beach Erie County 15 69 22%
Tanner Park Suffolk County 11 47 23%
Benjamin's Beach Suffolk County 10 43 23%
Venetian Shores Suffolk County 10 45 22%
Hamlin Beach State Park Monroe County 9 33 27%
Amityville Beach Suffolk County 9 37 24%
Main Street Beach* Chautauqua County 7 26 27%

* Beach has more than one associated testing site, which may affect number of potentially unsafe days.

Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Pamlico River at the railroad trestle Beaufort County 10 17 59%
Pamlico River at Havens Gardens Park Beaufort County 9 19 47%
Holden Beach Brunswick County 7 17 41%
Beach by Vandemere Creek Pamlico County 7 19 37%
Jockey's Ridge Beach Dare County 7 30 23%
Beach at Pantego Creek Beaufort County 7 32 22%
Beach at Union Point Craven County 5 16 31%
Carolina Beach New Hanover County 5 18 28%
Hancock Creek Craven County 4 15 27%
Lennoxville Boat Ramp in Beaufort Carteret County 4 17 24%
Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Bay View West Erie County 36 76 47%
Bay View East Erie County 27 77 35%
Villa Angela State Park Cuyahoga County 27 112 24%
Maumee Bay Inland Beach Lucas County 21 51 41%
Lake Front Park Erie County 21 76 28%
Huntington Beach Cuyahoga County 21 109 19%
Euclid State Park Cuyahoga County 20 113 18%
Lagoons Beach Erie County 19 78 24%
Sherod Park Beach Erie County 18 78 23%
Main Street Beach Erie County 16 78 21%
Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Nye Beach* Lincoln County 9 10 90%
Seal Rock State Recreation Site* Lincoln County 7 10 70%
Sunset Bay State Park* Coos County 6 7 86%
Bastendorf Beach* Coos County 5 6 83%
Harris Beach State Park* Curry County 5 6 83%
Rockaway Beach* Tillamook County 5 6 83%
Tolovana Beach State Wayside* Clatsop County 5 7 71%
Hubbard Creek Beach at Humbug Mountain State Park* Curry County 4 6 67%
Cannon Beach* Clatsop County 4 9 44%
Mill Beach* Curry County 3 6 50%
Neskowin Beach State Wayside* Tillamook County 3 6 50%

* Beach has more than one associated testing site, which may affect number of potentially unsafe days.

Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Erie Beach 11* Erie County 11 24 46%
Barracks Beach* Erie County 8 30 27%
Erie Beach 6* Erie County 4 28 14%
Erie Beach 9 (Pine Tree Beach)* Erie County 3 24 12%
Erie Beach 1 East* Erie County 2 24 8%
Erie Beach 8 (Pettinato Beach)* Erie County 2 28 7%
Freeport Beach* Erie County 1 13 8%
Erie Beach 10 (Bundy Beach)* Erie County 1 26 4%

* Beach has more than one associated testing site, which may affect number of potentially unsafe days.

Beach name Municipio Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Tropical Beach Naguabo Municipio 11 20 55%
Playa Mojacasabe Cabo Rojo Municipio 7 20 35%
Playa Guayanes Yabucoa Municipio 6 19 32%
Balneario Sardinera Dorado Municipio 5 18 28%
Muelle de Arecibo Arecibo Municipio 5 18 28%
Balneario Crash Boat Beach Aguadilla Municipio 4 17 24%
Playa El Combate Cabo Rojo Municipio 4 17 24%
Balneario El Escambron San Juan Municipio 4 19 21%
Playa Buye Cabo Rojo Municipio 4 20 20%
Playita Rosada, Lajas Lajas Municipio 3 14 21%
Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Easton's Beach* Newport County 16 29 55%
Conimicut Point Beach* Kent County 9 29 31%
Oakland Beach* Kent County 7 29 24%
Hazard's Beach* Newport County 6 13 46%
Scarborough State Beach South* Washington County 6 29 21%
Goddard Memorial State Park* Kent County 5 29 17%
Roger Wheeler State Beach* Washington County 4 6 67%
Scarborough State Beach North* Washington County 4 29 14%
Warren Town Beach Bristol County 4 29 14%
Bailey Beach* Newport County 3 6 50%

* Beach has more than one associated testing site, which may affect number of potentially unsafe days.

Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Myrtle Beach* Horry County 70 82 85%
North Myrtle Beach* Horry County 29 87 33%
Briarcliffe Acres Beach* Horry County 24 74 32%
Beach at Horry County Campgrounds* Horry County 16 28 57%
Surfside Beach* Horry County 15 30 50%
Arcadia Beach* Horry County 9 27 33%
Edisto Island* Charleston County 7 11 64%
Hilton Head Island* Beaufort County 2 10 20%
Isle of Palms* Charleston County 2 10 20%
Seabrook Island* Charleston County 2 10 20%

* Beach has more than one associated testing site, which may affect number of potentially unsafe days.

Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Cole Park* Nueces County 62 68 91%
Ropes Park* Nueces County 40 54 74%
Surfside Beach* Brazoria County 34 47 72%
Sylvan Beach Park* Harris County 27 44 61%
Follet's Island* Brazoria County 25 44 57%
Corpus Christi Marina* Nueces County 23 40 57%
Quintana Beach* Brazoria County 23 43 53%
Sargent Beach* Matagorda County 20 40 50%
Jetty Park* Matagorda County 20 43 47%
Nueces Bay Causeway #3 San Patricio County 18 38 47%

* Beach has more than one associated testing site, which may affect number of potentially unsafe days.

Beach name County/independent city Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
Hilton Beach Newport News city 10 14 71%
Fairview Beach King George County 8 9 89%
Buckroe Beach Hampton city 4 12 33%
Assateague Virginia* Accomack County 3 15 20%
Huntington Beach Newport News city 3 15 20%
Captains Quarters Norfolk city 3 18 17%
Sarah Constant Beach Park, East End Norfolk city 3 18 17%
Guard Shore Accomack County 2 14 14%
King/Lincoln Park Newport News city 2 15 13%
Beach at 10th View Norfolk city 2 18 11%
Beach at 13th View Norfolk city 2 18 11%
Ocean View Park Norfolk city 2 18 11%

* Beach has more than one associated testing site, which may affect number of potentially unsafe days.

Beach name County Potentially unsafe days in 2020 Days with testing Percentage of testing days with potentially unsafe water
South Shore Beach Milwaukee County 30 40 75%
Kreher Park Beach Ashland County 15 30 50%
Fish Creek Beach Door County 13 65 20%
Zoo Beach* Racine County 12 68 18%
Pennoyer Park Beach Kenosha County 10 34 29%
Red Arrow Park Beach Manitowoc Manitowoc County 9 50 18%
Simmons Island Beach Kenosha County 8 42 19%
North Beach* Racine County 8 67 12%
Hika Park Bay Manitowoc County 7 15 47%
6th Ave. W. Beach Ashland County 7 30 23%
Maslowski Beaches* Ashland County 7 30 23%

* Beach has more than one associated testing site, which may affect number of potentially unsafe days.

Our analysis of fecal indicator bacteria sampled data from beaches in 29 coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico finds that, in 2020:

  • The water at 328 beaches – more than 1 in every 10 beaches surveyed – was potentially unsafe on at least 25 percent of the days that sampling took place.
  • More than half of all the 3,166 beaches reviewed were potentially unsafe for swimming on at least one day tested.

NOTE: Beaches were considered potentially unsafe if fecal indicator bacteria levels exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Beach Action Value” associated with an estimated illness rate of 32 out of every 1,000 swimmers. Many states use other thresholds for beach closure and advisory decisions, and therefore results presented here may differ from state reports on beach water quality.

Primary sources of fecal contamination include sewage overflows and runoff pollution.

To curb this contamination and help make our beaches safe for swimming, policymakers should invest in improving our water infrastructure, especially by deploying nature-based solutions to prevent runoff pollution.

Do you love the beach?

Help keep your favorite beach safe for swimming. Join the wave of supporters telling Congress to invest in water infrastructure to stop pollution that can make us sick.

URGENT: Congress is deciding on infrastructure funding, so please act now.

Photos: top-right, R Boed via flickr.com, CC-BY-2.0; others, public domain.

Fecal contamination makes beaches unsafe for swimming. Each year, people suffer an estimated 57 million illnesses — including nausea, diarrhea, ear infections, and rashes — from swimming in U.S. waters.

Our beaches are at risk. Runoff from paved surfaces, overflows from aging sewage systems, and manure from industrial livestock operations all threaten the waters where Americans swim. These pollution threats are getting worse with climate change, as more extreme precipitation events bring heavy flows of stormwater.

  • Sprawling development has created more impervious surfaces that cause runoff pollution and has destroyed natural areas such as wetlands that protect beaches from contamination. From 1996 to 2016, U.S. coastal regions added 4.2 million acres of development, while losing 640,000 acres of wetland and nearly 10 million acres of forest.
  • America’s sewage infrastructure is deteriorating and outdated. Many communities, particularly around the Great Lakes, still use combined sewers that were designed to discharge sewage directly to waterways during heavy rainfall. Sanitary sewers, which are designed to carry sewage alone, can also spill dangerous sewage if they are not properly maintained — and they overflow as many as 75,000 times each year in the U.S.
  • The rise of factory farms has resulted in large concentrations of livestock manure that cannot be stored safely and is often overapplied to crops. All too often, rainfall washes excess manure from cropland into our waterways, where it can put swimmers’ health at risk. Animal manure can also contain pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics, creating added risk to public health.

Of more than 3,000 beaches sampled for bacteria across the country in 2020, 328 were potentially unsafe for swimming on at least 25 percent of days that testing took place.

  • As of May 2021, sampling data for 2020 from 3,166 beaches in 29 coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico was available through the National Water Quality Monitoring Council’s Water Quality Portal.
  • Of those beaches, 1,689 (53 percent) had bacteria levels indicating potentially unsafe levels of fecal contamination for swimming on at least one day, and 328 were potentially unsafe on at least 25 percent of the days that sampling took place.
  • Swimmers could also be at risk at additional beaches where no bacterial testing was conducted or available through the Water Quality Portal.

In every coastal and Great Lakes state and in Puerto Rico, sampling revealed potentially unsafe levels of contamination in 2020.

Our recommendations

To ensure that all of our beaches are safe for swimming, policymakers should work to protect beaches from runoff and sewage pollution – including by stopping pollution at its source, and by protecting natural areas. Solutions include:

  • Dramatically increasing funding to fix sewage systems and prevent runoff pollution through natural and green infrastructure, including rain gardens, permeable pavement and green roofs.
  • Protecting wetlands, which filter out pollutants like bacteria, and streams, which flow to coastal areas where people swim.
  • Enacting moratoriums on new or expanded industrial-scale livestock operations, particularly in areas where these operations would threaten our beaches and other waterways.

Policymakers should also ensure that swimmers are presented with the best possible information to make decisions regarding their health. Officials should expand funding for beach testing to ensure adequate testing at all beaches. States should use the EPA’s most protective “Beach Action Value” bacteria standard for making beach advisory decisions and should work to implement same-day bacteria testing and warning systems.


Did you find this information useful? Please help us keep up this work. To make change, we need to first understand the problems we’re trying to solve. And that takes research. We release hard-hitting reports produced by our research partners each year focusing on policy solutions we could pursue to address environmental issues ranging from climate change to conservation. You can help with a gift of $5 or more.