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 Last updated: November 25, 2015

Northwest District Northwest District Water Quality Outlook

  Florida Depatment of Environmental Protection Logo    Florida Department of Health Escambia County Logo

The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County (DOH in Escambia County) and the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration Northwest Regional Operation Center partner in a weekly water quality report for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

The site map below and weekly report identify sampling sites along rivers, estuaries and beaches from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the DOH in Escambia County surface water monitoring programs. The water quality outlook keywords provide a guide to the ecological indicators and measurements utilized in this report.

Related Information:

The Escambia County Health Department DEP Exit Disclaimer Link

The Florida Healthy Beaches Program DEP Exit Disclaimer Link

Red Tide Status Report
 DEP Exit Disclaimer Link


Establishing Numeric Criteria for Florida's Waters

Sites 1,2, 6, 7, and 15 are sampled bi-weekly from March to October as part of the Healthy Beaches Program.


*Red Tide Reported on Pensacola Beach

Map of Surface Water Quality Monitoring Locations
Week of
Location Water Temp  Salinity
(Parts Per Thousand)

(Parts Per Million)

(Single Sample)
2* Bayou Grande Navy Point
Park North
60°F 17.6 8.7 NR 8 None
3* Bayou
Bayview Park 62°F 13.9 8.6 NR 12 None

Disclaimer: This report is provided for informational use only. For current advisories or additional information, direct contact with the appropriate Department representative should be made in matters that require confirmation to the intent or currency of the information presented. Report provided as a public service the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (1-850-595-0571), and the *DOH in Escambia (1-850-595-6700). To contact the Santa Rosa County Department of Health (1-850-983-5200). For current open/closed status of shellfish harvesting areas, contact the Division of Aquaculture Shellfish Information Hotline (1-850-747-5252). NR=Not Reported

Sites with an asterisk (*) are monitored under the Health Beaches Program by the DOH in Escambia County. For health related questions contact your local county department of health.
For more information, contact: cheryl.bunch@dep.state.fl.us



Water Quality Outlook Keywords


Enterococci Mean - The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has officially announced a final rule for Enterococci criteria for Florida’s Coastal Recreational Waters, marine coastal waters only including estuaries, although all Enterococci Means are included in this report. This rule provides a 30-day geometric mean of 35 colony-forming units per 100 milliliters (cfu/100 ml) or less to be considered safe for swimming and water contact sports, and a single sample maximum of 104 cfu/100 ml or less at Designated Bathing Beaches.    Please note that the Enterococci criteria are already in use for beach monitoring by the Escambia County Health Department at designated bathing beach locations. Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency.  Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Bacteria – 1986

Enterococci data for sites 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 15, and 16 provided by the Escambia County Health Department.

For more information or current swimming advisories, call the Escambia County Health Department at 595-6706 or the Santa Rosa Health Department at 983-5275.


Fecal Coliform - Fecal Coliform bacteria live within the intestines of warm blooded animals. The presence of these bacteria may indicate sewage contamination and the presence of other harmful pathogens which pose significant threat to humans. Contaminated water can cause disease either by direct contact, which threatens recreational water users, or by ingestion of contaminated shellfish. Livestock, inadequate wastewater treatment plants, leaky septic systems, sanitary landfills, and stormwater runoff are common sources of fecal and other bacteria. Fecal Coliform data for sites 1, 2, 3, and 15 provided by the Escambia County Health Department.

Coliform Count - Following membrane filtration of a water sample containing  Fecal Coliform bacteria,  the membrane is placed upon suitable microbiological growth media and incubated at 44.5 degrees Celsius for 24 hours.  The number reported represents the number of colony forming units per 100 milliliters of water. Exceeding 800 colonies/100 milliliters for any single sample and a 30 day geometric mean exceeding 200 colonies/100 mls indicates that the waterbody sampled does not meet recreational water quality standards and contact should be avoided. Exceeding 400 colonies/100 milliliters in 10% of samples taken in a 30 day period indicates that the waterbody does not meet recreational water quality standards and caution should be exercised. 

Salinity - Salinity is a measurement of the salt content in water and is usually expressed in Parts Per Thousand (PPT). Seawater has about 35 parts of salt per 1000 parts of water. Drinking water is less than 0.5 PPT. Salinity levels control the types of plants and animals that live in the different zones of the estuary.

Temperature - Temperature is a critical factor influencing several aspects of the aquatic ecosystem. It influences biological activity and many chemical variables within a water body. As water temperature increases, the capacity of a water molecule to retain dissolved oxygen decreases. Water temperature influences the rate of plant photosynthesis, the metabolic rates of aquatic organisms, and the sensitivity of organisms to toxic wastes, parasites, and diseases.


Dissolved Oxygen - Dissolved oxygen is an essential indicator in assessing an estuary’s health. Oxygen enters the water from the atmosphere and through aquatic plant and phytoplankton photosynthesis. The oxygen is then available for aquatic organisms to utilize in basic metabolic processes. Most plants and animals can grow and do well when the dissolved oxygen level exceeds 5 mg/l. Levels below 3 mg/l causes stress and/or death in many species. Oxygen is used up during the decomposition of organic material. An overload of nutrients from human activities cause overgrowth of phytoplankton. The phytoplankton ultimately die and fall to the bottom where they decompose, using up oxygen.

Field Notes - Field observations which may include the presence of seaweed, algae, sea nettles and jellyfish, or Fish Kills.