Many beaches around the country are monitored to protect the public from bacteria from human and animal feces that can cause illness in the form of ear, eye, nose, and gastro-intestinal infections. Children are especially susceptible to bacteria-borne illness.
The Marine & Environmental Research Institute (MERI) monitors beaches in the Blue Hill area for Enterococcus bacteria in the water. MERI uses the same protocols as Maine Healthy Beaches program, and we provide this monitoring as a public service for free to the community since our area is too small to be monitored by that organization. We use assessment parameters from the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Enteroccocus bacteria is an indicator for contamination from human and animal feces. The EPA advises people not to swim when monthly Enteroccocus counts average above 35 per 100 mL water. The most common sources of bacteria are sewage overflows, polluted stormwater runoff, sewage treatment plant malfunctions, boating wastes, malfunctioning septic systems, or other human practices. Higher levels of harmful bacteria are most likely to occur after heavy rain.
MERI tests water weekly at six coastal beaches in Blue Hill and Surry from July through September 2016. This website will be updated regularly with weekly sampling results and monthly average bacteria level results.
Frequently Asked Questions about Beach Bacteria
1. How often are you testing?
When beaches exceed the monthly average, MERI increases its testing from bi-weekly a weekly basis. Test results are available approx. 36-48 hours after sampling.
2. What procedures do you follow?
MERI uses the same protocols as Maine Healthy Beaches program, which uses EPA criteria to determine whether beaches are safe for swimming. We provide this monitoring as a public service since our area is too small to be monitored by that organization.
3. Will the beach be closed?
The Town of Blue Hill iinvestigates possible sources of bacteria and will post appropriate warning signs at beaches where there is a health concern for the public.
4. Where are your reporting results?
MERI reports bacteria test results to the Town of Blue Hill. We will post our monitoring results on the MERI website on a weekly basis. Please visit meriresearch.org and facebook.com/MarineEnvironmentalResearchInstitute for updated information.