The Chatham County Health Department has issued a water quality advisory for Polk Street Beach, which extends from from the north end of the beach to the jetty 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 our Beach Water Testing Program page.