Warm weather is finally upon us and with that the start of the 2019 lake and beach season. Garrett County residents and visitors have access to five public beaches as well as two recreational water attractions. So what is the Health Department doing to keep these beachgoers safe? Environmental Health conducts two monitoring programs, one for the public and private beaches and another for Deep Creek Lake. These programs help provide a way to minimize exposure to potential risk.
Both of these programs include routine site assessments and testing for the presence of E. coli bacteria in order to advise the public of unsafe swimming conditions. E. coli is naturally occurring in the environment and found in all warm-blooded animals, including birds, and is an indicator of fecal contamination. While E. coli may or may not be harmful to your health, other organisms also associated with fecal contamination that can cause illness may also be present. You should expect these levels to rise after a heavy rain event or when migratory birds have settled onto the beach.
The State of Maryland has issued guidelines indicating what level of E. coli can present a risk to swimmers. During routine testing, if these levels are exceeded, signs will be posted on the beach to inform the public. To keep you and your family safe, Environmental Health recommends not swimming after a heavy rain event until the waters have cleared, shower after swimming, and try not to swallow beach water.
For more information on the Maryland Healthy Beaches Program and for up to date postings on beach advisories or closures, visit marylandhealthybeaches.org.