The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has disclosed that beaches, on the south coast, from Amaryllis to Worthing, Christ Church, are safe for recreational use.
The department said the results of “special sampling” showed all the beaches assessed between December last year and January this year met the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) criterion for the indicator organisms, Enterococci and Faecal Coliform.
An EDP statement further stated that the samples, which were analysed at the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory, showed these indicator organisms were not pathogens and therefore did not cause diseases. Their presence in the marine environment, however, are an indication of faecal contamination and the possibility of the presence of pathogens.
In addition to its routine sampling of beaches at Amaryllis, Accra and Worthing, the EPD has also introduced “extraordinary sampling” at four other sites – two areas along the Richard Haynes Board Walk and two areas at Sandy Beach — following reports of overflows from the sewerage system on Highway 7.
The water quality results from the EPD’s routine monitoring programme are assessed against the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Recreational Water Quality Criteria for marine waters, which were adopted for local use. On that occasion, the results were further assessed against criteria for Enterococci in marine waters from Canada, the World Health Organization and the European Union (EU).
During the round of special sampling conducted between December last year and January this year, all the beaches met the EU standards for excellent water quality and the Canadian standard of 35 CFU (Colony Forming Units)/100 ml. Out of a total of 84 samples, only two exceeded the Canadian Single Sample Maximum (SSM) of 70 CFU/100 ml.
However the EPD said, given the nature of the discharges on the south coast and the potential public health issues, it has advised the National Conservation Commission (NCC) to erect red flags, as a public health precautionary measure, from the Hastings Rocks beach facility to the first headland immediately east of the facility.
It has further advised that red flags be erected at Worthing Beach immediately after the release of water from the Graeme Hall Swamp.
Red flags indicate that there may be a health or safety hazard present and persons should avoid swimming and other marine water contact activities in the area until they are removed.
The EPD, a department in the Ministry of Environment and Drainage, monitors west and south coast beaches on a weekly basis to ensure that bathing waters are safe for recreational use.