Beachgoers need to watch water quality

The sugary soft sands of Fort De Soto North Beach sits beneath blue skies, just one of many area beaches with what's considered healthy water.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports on more than 600 beaches in Florida, and puts Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island on its superstars list.

But, it is a different story just an hour north.

"We just came from the Clearwater Aquarium, and we came to cool off," said Valerie Adams, who has a towel draped over one shoulder, fresh out of the water at Ben T. Davis Beach.

The water at Ben T. Davis Beach in Hillsborough County made the EPA's list of beaches, with exceptionally high levels of bacteria. Bacteria found in fecal matter, which can cause disease, infections and rashes.

A *fourth* of water samples here exceeded acceptable levels.

"Oh yes. When we went in, it looked pretty bad, so I'm not that surprised," Adams said.

The same warning was issued for Picnic Island, where the health department suggests staying out of the water. Ten percent of Picnic Island North water samples tested exceeded acceptable bacterial levels, while 16 percent of the samples from south beach exceeded bacterial levels.

"I pay attention so no danger for me and my kids," said Delia Rosero, who says she frequently brings her grandson to the beach.

Several other beaches also had elevated levels of bacteria:

Pasco: Robert J. Strickland, where more than a third of water samples tested over the limit.

Pinellas: Elevated samples were found at Treasure Island, Madeira Beach and Redington Shores.

Sarasota: Beaches that exceed the acceptable bacteria threshold included Siesta Key, North Jetty, and Ringling Causeway.

Manatee: Bay Front Park North and Palma Sola South beaches.

Now despite these elevated levels, you can still go for a swim.


Read the full report

List of best Florida beaches

Check Pinellas test results


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