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Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly are total coliform, fecal coliform, and enterococcus?
Total coliform consist of a large group of bacteria that may inhabit the intestinal tracts of both humans and animals. They are also found naturally in water, soils, and vegetation.

Fecal coliform are a subgroup of total coliform bacteria. Their presence is highly correlated with fecal contamination from warm-blooded animals including humans. Water quality testing in Humboldt County indicates that Escherichia coli, a species of fecal coliform, comprises essentially all of the fecal coliform in this region. E Coli also has a higher degree of association with outbreaks of certain diseases than fecal coliform. Thus, in Humboldt County we are testing only for E Coli rather than fecal coliform.

Enterococcus, sometimes referred to as fecal streptococcus, is also an intestinal bacterium used to indicate fecal contamination from mammals and birds.

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?