Beaches: Monitoring Programs and Closures - EH: Minnesota Department of Health

Beaches and Recreational Waters in Minnesota
Monitoring Programs and Closures

photo of child playing in Rainy LakeAssessing the relative risk to public health risk of water contamination requires an assessment of indicators including the type of contamination present and the degree of exposure to the materials.

Establishing a Beach Sampling Program requires that appropriate sampling protocol and analysis are followed. At best, water quality sampling can only provide a “snapshot” of current water conditions and cannot always determine whether people will become ill from swimming. Also, measuring an individual bacteria species does not indicate whether its source is environmental (native animals, plant decomposition), agricultural or from human waste.

Local Monitoring Programs

A good starting point for information about local monitoring programs is your local County or City Health Department. MDH maintains a listing of contact information for local city and county health departments in Minnesota:

Federal Monitoring Programs

In 2000, Congress unanimously passed a law entitled the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (B.E.A.C.H.) Act of 2000. The goal of this law is to ensure that recreational beach waters in all coastal and Great Lakes states are monitored for disease-causing microorganisms. President Clinton signed the B.E.A.C.H. Act into law in October 2000. You can find additional information on the B.E.A.C.H. Act at:

Closure Tools for Local Government Agencies

Although it is normal (in fact healthy) for beaches to have microbes in the water, sometimes the water contains pathogens that cause sickness. Local authorities such as county or city officials may face the prospect of closing beaches and bathing areas in order to protect public health. These tools are sample materials designed to assist local authorities with beach closure.

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Updated Friday, March 07, 2014 at 10:48AM