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Our Town by William Kelly: No swimming advisory remains in effect at Midtown Beach

The Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County continues to advise against swimming at Midtown Beach after water samples revealed fecal contamination in the water.

A water quality health alert remains in place for Midtown Beach and Dubois Park in Jupiter and is not likely to be lifted before Thursday at the earliest, a town official said.

The Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County was expected to collect new water samples on Wednesday morning to reassess bacterial levels at Midtown Beach and DuBois Park.

But, once the samples are taken, there is a 24-hour hold time before the new bacterial levels are determined, according to Joe Sekula, assistant fire chief and public information officer for the Palm Beach Fire-Rescue Department.

“We should know something tomorrow morning,” Sekula told the Palm Beach Civic Association on Wednesday.The Health Department issued water quality health alerts on Tuesday evening for fecal pollution at Midtown Beach and DuBois Park.

The Health Department said it considers the levels at both locations a health risk for water activities, including swimming, after taking water samples on Monday.

At Midtown Beach, samples taken during regular water quality monitoring revealed a high level of Enterococci bacteria, which normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals, and which may cause human disease, infections, or rashes.

The presence of Enterococci bacteria is an indication of fecal pollution, which may come from stormwater runoff, pets and wildlife, and human sewage.

The water samples collected on Monday showed that Midtown Beach tested around 175 (per 100 milliliters of marine water) for Enterococci bacteria, Sekula said. DuBois Park tested at 97.

Any level above 71 is considered poor, Sekula said. Midtown Beach usually tests around 10.

“This is a higher one for us,” Sekula said of the Midtown test result.

According to Sekula, Midtown Beach typically receives around two water quality health alerts each year. But he said closures of the beach are rare.

The higher Enterococci bacteria levels typically occur when there has been high surf or heavy rainfall following a period of little or no rain, he said.

The current advisories will remain in place until bacterial levels return to normal and the Department of Health issues an all-clear.

The Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County has conducted saltwater quality sampling since August 2002 as part of the Florida Healthy Beaches Monitoring Program.

For more information on the beach advisory, log onto the town’s website,, where you can sign up to receive town email alerts, or contact Sekula at (561) 227-6435.

For more information on the Florida Healthy Beaches Monitoring program, contact the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County at (561) 274-3187 or (561) 837-5988, or visit the Health Department’s beach water quality website at

Messages left on both Health Department phone numbers, seeking additional information for this article, were not immediately returned by the Health Department.


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