Beach Swimming Advisories
Beach Swimming Advisories - The map below shows current beach advisories. Zoom in, click on a dot, or select a beach to see more information.
The Beach Water Monitoring program is a cooperative effort of the Coastal Resources Division and the Coastal Health District. The water at Georgia's coastal swimming beaches is tested regularly for the presence of potentially harmful bacteria.
What is a beach swimming advisory?
An advisory means that the Health Department recommends you NOT swim at the designated beach. It does not mean that the beach is closed. The beach is open - but swimming is not advised. The local county Health Department issues the advisory based on our weekly tests of the beach water.
What is the most current status of Georgia's beaches? Check the map above. The green dot symbol means that the bacteria levels are acceptable at that beach. The yellow dot symbol means that bacteria levels at that beach are elevated and swimming at that beach is not advised.
Looking for historical data? Click here for archived beach advisory news releases by county from 2007 to the present.
Effective January 1, 2016, the Beach Monitoring and Notification Program began using a new bacterial level threshold - recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - in order to determine when swimming advisories should be issued. The new bacterial threshold value recommended by EPA is more protective of public health. However, since Georgia's beaches have good water quality overall, the new advisory threshold is not expected to appreciably increase the number of swimming advisories.
What we test for....
We monitor all public beach waters for the presence of enterococcus bacteria and for fecal coliform bacteria. These bacteria are considered indicator organisms. The organisms are found in the fecal waste of humans and other warm-blooded animals. When we find high levels of fecal bacteria in the beach water that indicates there is fecal matter in the water.
Why we test...
Human and animal fecal waste can contain disease-causing organisms. Swimming in water contaminated with fecal waste can expose the swimmer to illness. Swimming in those contaminated areas is NOT recommended.
Where do we test...
We test the beach water on Tybee Island, St. Simons Island, and Jekyll Island weekly. We test other beaches along coastal Georgia monthly.
Are the fish safe to eat...
Yes. Fish caught in bacterially-contaminated waters should be washed and cooked thoroughly before eating. Wash hands thoroughly after handling raw fish.
Click here to download a pdf document with the answers to some frequently asked questions.
Looking for data about the past year's beach advisories? Every year we report the number of advisories for Georgia beaches to EPA. The most recent report submitted the 2015 beach notification data. The 2016 data will be reported to EPA in January of 2017. Check out the EPA Beach Advisory and Closure On-line Notification (BEACON) system. Find your favorite beach and click on the historical data link.
For more information...
Contact the DNR Beach Water Quality Program at 912-264-7218. For health-related questions, contact the Glynn County Health Department at 912-264-9319 or the Chatham County Health Department at 912-356-2160.