Beach water quality cooperates with July 4 crowd

July 4, 2011 2:39:25 PM PDT
A recent study of Texas' beaches found that in 2010 there was a threefold increase in the number of days when bacteria levels in the water were high enough to trigger health advisory warnings.

But there is good news for those who are spending this holiday on Galveston's beaches.

Compared to the rest of the state, Galveston has a not-so-bad record when it comes to the cleanliness of its beaches, so a lot of people are taking advantage of the water.

For longtime Galveston residents, love of the beach and the water always comes with a bit of caution.

"Sure we do especially when they put the red flags up, that's our sign letting us know to be careful with the waters, so if you have cuts and stuff like that, they don't want you to go in there," resident Delma Arcidiacino said.

That's because experts say on average, experts say there are four to eight percent of the year where the waters are not healthy enough for swimming, though Monday was not one of those days.

"We got to get to used to Galveston, brown water. It's nice though," visitor Steve Gonzales said.

It's not necessarily the color of the water. Rather, officials monitor the amount of chemicals in the water. You can keep track of the condition of water online where a state-run website constantly reports on the water quality of every beach. Fortunately for Galveston, the dry weather has meant better than average beach conditions.

"Generally the exceedences are tied to rain events, so when you have a beautiful sunny day like today and very little rain like we've had, your bacteria numbers are going to stay low," said Bob Stokes with the Galveston Beach Foundation.

And for beachgoers of all ages perhaps the best lesson is no matter what the pollution level don't contribute the problem.

"My mom and dad always tell me to leave the beach cleaner than it was when you got here. So we try to do clean up as much as we can," 10-year-old Brooklyn Wilson said.

Even though experts say the quality of the water is suitable for swimming, they still say to be careful when swimming because of the rip currents and undertows, especially if you're not familiar with the waters.