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State of Texas: Swimming in Germs

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Jen Reel was an Observer intern before joining the staff in July 2010, first as Web Editor, and most recently as Multimedia Editor. She received a Masters in Journalism with a concentration in Photojournalism from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was co-chair for the student chapter of the National Press Photographers Association. She has worked in the non-profit sector for the Peruvian-American Medical Society and has been published in Utne Reader magazine, the Village Voice and Pitchfork Music.

  • citizenne

    Thanks so much for putting this together. As an avid Gulf Coast sportsman, the more information, the better.

    The article mentioned six (6) beaches that are safe for swimming. Could you list those?

    Thank you.

How safe are Texas beaches for swimming? A recent study has us worried. In 2013, the National Resources Defense Council, a national environmental group, analyzed samples from 62 of Texas' 169 public beaches to look for the bacteria enterococcus, typically found in human and animal intestines. Public health officials frequently test for enterococcus to determine if bodies of water are safe for swimming. Exposure to enterococcus can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Only six beaches had no samples exceed the safety standards for enterococcus, according to the study. The worst beach was Ropes Park near Corpus Christi, where nearly two-thirds of the samples taken registered unsafe levels of the bacteria. Happy summer y'all!

Sources: Natural Resources Defense Council

Illustration by Joanna Wojtkowiak