2021 Summer Health Advisory Update – Pensacola Bay System

January – September


The Florida Department of Health samples one of 14 public swimming areas each week around the Pensacola area. Due to the cost of analyzing not all beaches are sampled every week. Thus, this report looks at the percentage of those samples that require a health advisory. Sea Grant programming is trying to reduce all of these to less that 30% of the samples taken requiring a health advisory.


The indicator species monitored is Enterococcus. This bacterium is found in the digestive tracts of birds and mammals and is associated with their waste. All birds and mammals defecate – so, finding Enterococcus in the water is not surprising. However, at high concentrations it could indicate the presence of other pathogenic bacteria that could be a risk to human health. Thus, health advisories are issued when this happens.


When a sample has 71 Enterococcus colonies (or more), a second sample will be collected for confirmation. If this second sample is high as well, a health advisory is issued. Often, the FDOH will not take a second sample from either Bayou Chico, Grande, or Texar but rather issue an advisory if the first sample is 71 colonies or more.


Below are the numbers from January through September 2021.

You will notice only Bayou Chico and Texar are over the 30% threshold we (Sea Grant) has set.

Bruce Beach was added as a sample site this week.

You can reduce the concentrations of human waste in our local waterways by

  • Being careful what you pour down your sinks. Fats, oils, and grease can clog pipes and cause sanitary sewer overflows in sewer systems, as well as clogs and backflow in septic systems. You can dispose of your fats, oils, and grease in ECUA’s FOG program. Contact us at the county extension office and we can explain how to participate in this.
  • Maintaining your septic system if you have one. It is recommended to have your septic inspected and pumped once every five years.
  • If possible, convert from septic to sewer system.
  • Clean up after your pets
  • Do not feed the birds over public waterways

Contact us here at the county extension office if you have any questions. (850) 475-5230.


Enterococcus bacteria count rubric for health advisories (Florida Department of Health)


GOOD 0-35 colonies/100ml of sample

MODERATE 36-70 colonies/100ml

POOR 71> colonies/100ml


Health Advisory Frequency

Data provided by the Florida Department of Health’s Healthy Beaches Program

Body of Water # of samples collected # of POOR reports # of advisories issued % frequency of advisories
Bayou Texar 42 16 14 .33
Sanders Beach 48 16 10 .21
Bayou Chico 17 12 12 .71
Bayou Grande 17 7 5 .29
Big Lagoon SP 19 4 1 .05
Perdido Key SP ND ND ND
Casino Beach 17 0 0 .00
Park East 17 0 0 .00
Park West 17 0 0 .00
Quietwater Beach 17 0 0 .00
Ft. Pickens 8 0 0 .00
Opal Beach 8 0 0 .00
Johnson’s Beach 8 0 0 .00
Bruce Beach 1 0 0 .00
TOTAL 236 55 42 .18



Posted: November 5, 2021

Category: Coasts & Marine, Natural Resources
Tags: Florida Sea Grant, Health Advisories

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