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USGS: New water test may prevent unnecessary beach closures


The same-day test may be able to prevent hundreds of beach closures each year
The same-day test may be able to prevent hundreds of beach closures each year

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer

March 25, 2013 — A new water quality test may be able to provide accurate, same-day measurements of the bacteria levels present in beach water.

Beaches are frequently closed due to poor water quality
Beaches are frequently closed due to poor water quality

A new, rapid water-quality test developed by the Environmental Protection Agency may be able to prevent unnecessary beach closures, according to a report by the USGS.

The test is able to analyze bacteria levels found in water, and deliver same-day results.

Present tests take about 24 hours, forcing beach managers to use findings from the previous day to determine whether a beach should be closed.

Closures can have a significant impact on a local economy. According to the USGS, the value of a beach trip is between $20 and $36 per person, per day. 

Researchers used the new test to analyze water quality data from the summers of 2009 and 2010 and found that the same-day test could have prevented "hundreds" of closures.

"Our research shows that EPA’s rapid test can be an effective tool for beach managers to help keep their recreational beach goers happy and safe,” said USGS scientist Meredith Nevers in a statement.

The test can be used on freshwater and marine beaches. While it is is recommended by the EPA, it is not required by law.

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