Beach Sanitary Surveys
- Marine Beach Sanitary Survey
- Great Lakes Sanitary Survey
- Other Sanitary Survey Information
A sanitary survey is a method of investigating the sources of fecal contamination to a water body. Sanitary surveys are typically used for drinking water, shellfish, and watershed protection programs. They can also be used at beaches. Sanitary surveys help state and local beach program managers and public health officials identify sources of beach water pollution, assess the magnitude of pollution, and identify priority locations for water testing.
Beach sanitary surveys involve collecting information at the beach, as well as in the surrounding watershed. Information collected at the beach may include: number of birds at the beach, slope of the beach, location and condition of bathrooms, and amount of algae on the beach. Information collected in the watershed may include: land use, location of storm water outfalls, surface water quality, and residential septic tank information. Beach managers can use the sanitary survey results to prioritize state or county resource allocations to help improve bathing beach water quality. In addition, they can use sanitary survey data (e.g., bacteria levels, source flow, turbidity, rainfall) to develop models to predict bathing beach water quality using readily available data.
EPA developed a beach sanitary survey tool, one each for marine and Great Lakes beaches, to help beach managers evaluate all contributing beach and watershed information including water quality data, pollution source data, and land use data. The tool consists of three types of beach sanitary surveys, in paper and electronic form (so that the data can be entered and stored in a database).
You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.
Marine Beach Sanitary Survey
EPA updated its beach sanitary survey tool to include survey forms that can be used at marine beaches. As templates, EPA used the survey forms the Agency had developed for the Great Lakes and developed a Routine On-site Sanitary Survey and an Annual Sanitary Survey that are specific to marine beaches. The survey forms include detailed questions on winds, tides, and other characteristics that affect marine beaches and were not included on the surveys for the Great Lakes.
- Factsheet (PDF) (2 pp, 50K) (April 2013)
- Marine Beach Sanitary Survey User Manual (PDF) (80 pp, 2.3MB; EPA-820-F-13-001) (March 2013)
- Marine Beach Annual Sanitary Survey (PDF) (13 pp, 261K, EPA 820-F-13-007)
- Marine Beach Routine On-Site Sanitary Survey (PDF) (2 pp, 112K, EPA 820-F-13-008)
Great Lakes Beach Sanitary Survey
The Great Lakes Beach Sanitary Survey has been developed and piloted in the Great Lakes, however the concept is applicable in any beach environment (marine water, inland water).
- Fact sheet about the Great Lakes Beach Sanitary Survey (May 2008) | Press Release (May 30, 2008)
- Great Lakes Beach Sanitary Survey User Manual (including forms and appendices) (PDF) (81 pp, 491K; EPA-823-B-06-001; May 2008)
- Great Lakes Beach Sanitary Survey Forms
- Great Lakes Pilot Project Summary Report (PDF) (10 pp, 540K) | Appendices to the Summary Report (PDF) (41 pp, 207K)
- Map of Great Lakes beaches with a sanitary survey pilot (PDF) (1 pg, 6.2MB)
Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy
A May 2004 Executive Order created the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force and encouraged creation of a Regional Collaboration of National Significance to address environmental problems. In December 2005, the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration (GLRC) published the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy to protect and restore the Great Lakes.
Of the Strategy's eight priority elements, the Coastal Health Chapter specifically addresses beach water quality. To that end, EPA is working with the states to develop beach sanitary surveys to identify sources of contamination at Great Lakes beaches.
Who developed the Great Lakes Beach sanitary survey tool?
The Agency initiated a three-year, three-step effort to design and implement beach sanitary surveys in Great Lakes recreational waters. The effort involved:
- Developing the final sanitary survey form, and beta-testing the sanitary surveys at a Great Lakes beach;
- Developing grant criteria and awarding grants to states to pilot-implement sanitary surveys into their beach programs; and
- Evaluating pilot studies, publishing a final beach sanitary survey, and providing technical assistance for implementing beach sanitary surveys.
What did the pilot project involve?
The pilot project involved a one time grant amount of $525,000 total to all states that applied. The Beach Sanitary Survey Tool was tested at 61 beaches in the Great Lakes, in 6 states, and included one Canadian province.
Other Sanitary Survey Information
- Example Beach Sanitary Surveys
- Example TMDL and Shellfish Sanitary Surveys
- A Guide to Conducting Beach Sanitary Surveys
Instructional video produced by University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, includes instructions on how to complete a routine and annual beach sanitary survey