Environmental Health

Public Recreational Bathing

HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOMS COOPERATIVE COASTAL MONITORING PROGRAM (CCMP)
REGULATORY RESOURCES RULES AND DOCUMENTS
DATA AND STATISTICS CONSUMER RESOURCES
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS [PDF] PUBLIC RECREATIONAL BATHING COMPLAINTS

 

Healthy and Safe Swimming Week 2023: Got Diarrhea? Don’t Swim!

Swimming is a fun, healthy way to stay physically active and spend quality time with family and friends. Healthy and Safe Swimming Week highlights the roles that swimmers, caregivers, aquatics and beach staff, residential pool owners, and public health officials play in preventing disease outbreaks, drowning, and pool chemical injuries.

You can get sick with diarrhea if you swallow contaminated water in pools, hot tubs, splash pads, oceans, lakes, or rivers. In fact, diarrhea is the most common illness reported for outbreaks linked to water in these places. To learn more Please visit the CDC's Diarrhea and Swimming webpage.

 

HOW TO PREVENT DROWNING

The Facts: 

  • More children ages 1–4 die from drowning than any other cause. 
  • Drowning happens in seconds and is often silent. 
  • Drowning can happen to anyone, any time there is access to water. 

You can prevent drowning by:

  • Learn basic swimming and water safety skills
  • Build fences that fully enclose pools 
  • Supervise closely
  • Wear a life jacket 
  • Learn CPR
  • Know the risks of natural waters
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Use the buddy system
  • Take additional precautions for medical conditions
  • Consider the effects of medications
  • Don’t hyperventilate or hold your breath for a long time

To learn more, please visit the CDC's Drowning Prevention website. 

 

POOL CHEMICAL SAFETY

Pool chemicals, such as chlorine and bromine, are added to treated venues (for example, pools, hot tubs/spas, and water playgrounds) to protect swimmers from the spread of germs and prevent outbreaks. Other pool chemicals help with the disinfection process (for example, pH control), improve water quality, stop corrosion and scaling of equipment, and protect against algal growth. However, pool chemicals can injure people when mixed together or when appropriate personal protective equipment is not used when handling them. Please visit the CDC's Pool Chemical Safety webpage for more information. 

 

HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOMS (HAB)

Cyanobacteria are a type of bacteria capable of photosynthesis. Although they are not true algae, they were often referred to as “blue‚Äźgreen algae”. A cyanobacterial harmful algal bloom (HAB) is the name given to the excessive growth, or “bloom”, of cyanobacteria. Adverse health effects from recreational exposure to cyanobacterial cells and cyanotoxins can cause effects ranging from a mild skin rash to serious illness. HABs often occur under suitable environmental conditions of light, temperature, nutrient enrichment, and calm water. CyanoHABs and their toxins can harm people, animals, aquatic ecosystems, the economy, drinking water supplies, property values, and recreational activities, including swimming and commercial and recreational fishing. 

In New Jersey, HAB monitoring, identification and response activities are conducted through a collaboration of partners including the Department of Environmental Protection’s-Bureau of Freshwater & Biological Monitoring, Department of Health-Public Recreational Bathing Project, and local health authorities who oversee freshwater lakes, rivers and streams. Please access the links below to learn more about HAB’s and New Jersey's coordinated response efforts. 

EPA's Cyanobacterial HABs in Water

 

COOPERATIVE COASTAL MONITORING PROGRAM (CCMP)

The Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program (CCMP) is a collaborative effort by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Division of Water Monitoring and Standards, Department of Health (DOH), Public Health and Food Protection Program's (PHFPP) Public Recreational Bathing Project and coastal local health authorities (LHA), to assess coastal water quality at public recreational bathing beaches. Sources of water pollution are subsequently investigated to protect public health and safety as results are contiuously shared with the public.

Water samples are collected from coastal marine waters routinely from mid-May through September. Samples are analyzed for the fecal indicator bacterium, Enterococcus. Enterococcus itself is generally not harmful but indicates the possible presence of pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria, viruses, and protozoans that also live in human and animal digestive systems.

Swimming in water exceeding the standard poses an increased risk of illness, such as gastroenteritis, low grade fevers and infections. To protect the public’s health, any sample found to exceed the maximum standard concentration of 104 colony forming units of Enterococci per 100 ml of sampled marine waters, requires a swimming advisory and/or closure of the recreational bathing waters. Resampling and a sanitary survey of the area by a licensed health inspector is conducted.

The DEP coordinates CCMP activities, with cooperation of the DOH, to ensure New Jersey’s bathing beaches are safe and clean. You can find more information about beach water quality sample results, beach status, reports, fact sheets and similar information by visiting: https://www.njbeaches.org/.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

PUBLIC RECREATIONAL BATHING COMPLAINTS

Complaints regarding public recreational bathing facilities may be directed to the facility's local health department.

 

Last Reviewed: 6/14/2023