Updated March 18, 2021:
The Glynn and Chatham County Health Departments have lifted the beach water advisories on St. Simons Island and Tybee Island.
The advisories were issued on March 16, 2021 after routine water quality tests showed a high level of enterococci bacteria which increase the risk of gastrointestinal illness in swimmers.
Subsequent water samples show the bacteria level dropped below the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limits. Therefore, the advisories have been lifted.
The Glynn and Chatham County Health Departments have issued water quality advisories for beach locations on St. Simons and Tybee Islands.
The areas under advisory are:
- South Beach at the Lighthouse: from 9th Street to the Pier on St. Simons Island
- South Beach at Chatham Street: from 18th Street to Inlet Avenue on Tybee Island
The advisory is only for the area specified above and does not impact other beach areas on the island. There is no way of knowing if going into water that is under advisory will result in illness. However, beach water advisories are to alert the public of a possible risk of illness associated with water contact. An area under advisory does not mean the beach is closed.
Water samples are collected routinely on Georgia’s islands throughout the year. The samples are tested for enterococcus (pronounced: en·ter·o·coc·cus) bacteria which is found in warm blooded animals including humans but also birds, raccoons, deer, dolphins and other wildlife. It is difficult to determine exactly where the bacteria come from, but some sources could include animal waste, storm water runoff, or boating waste. When a beach is under advisory, it means that the level of bacteria found in the water is above the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standards.
The Health Department recommends you do not swim or wade in the water in the area under advisory. Fish and other seafood caught from this area should be thoroughly washed with fresh water and thoroughly cooked before eating, as should fish or seafood caught from any waters.
The areas will be re-tested, and the advisories will be lifted when tests show the bacteria levels meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standards.
For more information, visit Ga Dept of Public Health’s Beach Water Testing Program page.