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Frequently Asked Questions

When is a beach placed on warning status?
If a water sample fails to meet 1 or more of the health standards, a warning status for the beach will be issued.

Warning signs stating "Warning! Ocean Water Contact May Cause Illness! Bacteria Levels Exceed Health Standards" will be posted at the beach.

Health standards are exceeded when:
  • Total coliform exceeds 10,000 Most Probable Number (MPN)*
  • Fecal coliform exceeds 400 MPN
  • Enterococcus exceeds 104 MPN
  • Fecal coliform:total coliform ratio exceeds 0.1, and the total coliform count exceeds 1,000 MPN

When a beach is listed under warning status, swimmers should stay a minimum of 50 yards away from creek mouths.

*Most Probable Number: bacterial count per 100 milliliters of water

Show All Answers

1. When is a beach placed on warning status?
2. When is a beach closed?
3. What exactly are total coliform, fecal coliform, and enterococcus?
4. How does Humboldt County monitor ocean water quality?
5. What are indicator bacteria?
6. Does the health risk to swimmers increase as indicator bacterial levels increase?
7. How do I protect myself from illness-causing bacteria in the ocean?
8. How can I find out about the weekly sampling results?