NERRS Data—Protecting Your Day at the Beach
Sunscreen and umbrella? Check. Trashy novel? Of course. Water quality monitoring data to predict whether it’s safe to swim at the beach? Well, that may not be on everyone’s packing list for the summer, but it’s an essential item for agencies that must post advisories about whether it’s safe to swim at the local beach.
Around the country, reserves maintain more than 110 water quality monitoring stations and 30 weather stations that collect data every 15 minutes. In the Southeast, this data helps public health agencies and local governments monitor bacteria levels at swimming beaches.
Recently, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control used data from the North Inlet-Winyah Bay and North Carolina reserves to develop an automated, database-driven tool that estimates bacteria levels and creates predictive visualizations that inform beach advisories. This effort will incorporate Rookery Bay Reserve data when it extends to the southwest coast of Florida this year.