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DOI

  • Elizabeth A. Kelly
  • Zhixuan Feng
  • Maribeth L. Gidley
  • Christopher D. Sinigalliano
  • Naresh Kumar
  • Allison G. Donahue
  • Adrianus J.H.M. Reniers
  • Helena M. Solo-Gabriele

When beach water monitoring programs identify poor water quality, the causes are frequently unknown. We hypothesize that management policies play an important role in the frequency of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) exceedances (enterococci and fecal coliform) at recreational beaches. To test this hypothesis we implemented an innovative approach utilizing large amounts of monitoring data (n > 150,000 measurements per FIB) to determine associations between the frequency of contaminant exceedances and beach management practices. The large FIB database was augmented with results from a survey designed to assess management policies for 316 beaches throughout the state of Florida. The FIB and survey data were analyzed using t-tests, ANOVA, factor analysis, and linear regression. Results show that beach geomorphology (beach type) was highly associated with exceedance of regulatory standards. Low enterococci exceedances were associated with open coast beaches (n = 211) that have sparse human densities, no homeless populations, low densities of dogs and birds, bird management policies, low densities of seaweed, beach renourishment, charge access fees, employ lifeguards, without nearby marinas, and those that manage storm water. Factor analysis and a linear regression confirmed beach type as the predominant factor with secondary influences from grooming activities (including seaweed densities and beach renourishment) and beach access (including charging fees, employing lifeguards, and without nearby marinas). Our results were observable primarily because of the very large public FIB database available for analyses; similar approaches can be adopted at other beaches. The findings of this research have important policy implications because the selected beach management practices that were associated with low levels of FIB can be implemented in other parts of the US and around the world to improve recreational beach water quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-277
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume212
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2018

    Research areas

  • Beach management, Beach use, Enterococci, Fecal coliform, Fecal indicator bacteria, Water quality

ID: 41982256