The Department of Health routinely samples and tests seawater from Bermuda's beaches for enterococci, a group of bacteria which are used as indicators of faecal pollution. Enterococci are present in human and animal waste and can enter marine waters from a variety of sources such as storm water runoff, animal and seabird waste, failing septic systems, sewage effluent, or boating waste.
We follow the US EPA Recreational Water Quality Criteria for Marine Water, which are based on extensive scientific studies and projects. The recent 2012 guidelines recommend that culturable enterococci for marine bathing waters do not exceed a geometric mean of 35 colony forming units (cfu) per 100milliltres of water over a 30 day period. Also, a single value of 130 cfu enterococci per 100ml should not be exceeded by more than 10% of the samples taken at that particular location.
During the peak months of May to September, Environmental Health Officers typically collect water samples at the most popular beaches with the larger beaches having multiple sampling points. As a result, approximately sixteen samples are collected twice a week.
Test results are available in 24 hours and if enterococci levels exceed 130 cfu/100ml at any location, that location is resampled and re-tested. To date, when this has occurred, re-testing has shown that the enterococci count has decreased to an acceptable level.
The following graphs summarize the water quality based on samples collected for the period indicated.
Department of Health
On-Shore Seawater Sampling 2014 for the period of 8 April – 30 October, 2014
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: 2012 Recreational Water Criteria
Water Sampling Results