First Quarter Health Advisory Report – Pensacola Bay Area – 2023

Project Objective: Organize health advisory data collected by the Florida Health Department to determine what percent of samples collected from each body of water requires a health advisory. 


Health advisories are issued when the Florida Health Department measures fecal bacteria at levels at or higher than what current codes allow.  In the case of marine/estuarine systems, the target fecal bacteria are Enterococcus (ENT).  This fecal bacterium has a higher tolerance for saline water and is a better indicator of high bacteria levels in marine systems.  The target concentration for a health advisory to be issued is 71 colonies/100ml (or higher).  If a waterbody has ENT levels at 71 colonies/100ml of sample (or higher) a second sample is collected to confirm.  If the second confirms high concentrations, a health advisory is issued for that body of water.


The Florida Department of Health monitors 13 bodies of water in the Escambia County area.  Each of these are areas where people frequently swim.  Due to costs, they do not sample each body of water each week.  And thus we take their data and determine what percent of the samples collected required a health advisory to be issued.  Historically, the three bayous are at, or above 30%, Bayou Chico is often above 50%.


1st Quarter Data for 2023

Body of Water No. of samples collected No. of health advisories issued Percent of samples requiring a health advisory
Bayou Texar 13 4 .31
Sanders Beach 13 0 .00
Bruce Beach 13 2 .15
Bayou Chico 3 0 .00
Bayou Grande 3 0 .00
Big Lagoon State Park 3 0 .00
Casino Beach 3 0 .00
Park East 3 0 .00
Park West 3 0 .00
Quietwater Beach 3 0 .00
Ft. Pickens 0
Opal Beach 0
Johnson’s Beach 0
TOTAL 60 6 .10




So far in 2023, 60 samples have been collected, 6 of those required a health advisory (10% of samples collected).

Bayou Texar, Sanders Beach, and Bruce Beach have been sampled each week since the beginning of the year.  Bayou Chico, Bayou Grande, Big Lagoon State Park, Casino Beach, Park East, Park West, and Quietwater Beach have begun sampling recently.

They have not begun sampling at Ft. Pickens, Opal Beach, or Johnson’s Beach.

The only body of water with a frequency at, or above, 30% is Bayou Texar (31%).



In the past, there has been a correlation between the amount of rainfall and the number of advisories issued.  During the early part of 2023 Pensacola was experiencing a lot of rain, but recently that has stopped, and the number of advisories has stopped as well.  As we move into the warmer months we will continue to monitor their data and report to the public.


Posted: April 10, 2023

Category: Natural Resources, Water
Tags: Florida Sea Grant, Health Advisories, Pensacola Bay

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