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Report: Cameron County Has Cleanest Beaches in Texas

Report: Cameron County Has Cleanest Beaches in Texas

LA PORTE, TEXAS – Last year, 141 beaches across the state had water pollution levels that put swimmers at risk of getting sick on at least one occasion last year, according to a new report by Environment Texas Research and Policy Center. But Cameron County beaches had the fewest days of potentially unsafe water in 2018 of all coastal counties in Texas.

“Swimming at the beach is a prime summertime joy for so many Texans, but clearly we have more work to do to make sure water at all our beaches is safe,” said Jen Schmerling, Deputy Director of Environment Texas Research and Policy Center. “We must invest in water infrastructure that prevents pollution to ensure that America’s waterways are safe for swimming.”

With summer in full swing, Texas beachgoers should beware: It might not be safe to go in the water. The study, Safe for Swimming?, looked at fecal bacteria levels at a total of 167 beaches across the state. 141 of 167 beach sites sampled were potentially unsafe for at least one day in 2018. A sampling site at Cole Park in Nueces County was potentially unsafe for 52 days, or 81% of testing days, more than any other site in the state.

Water quality at Cameron County beaches found potentially unsafe water on only 2% testing days. 19 beaches had no testing days with unsafe water, while 8 Cameron County beaches (six spots at Boca Chica State Park, Access Point #6, and Fantasy Beach) had at least one.
“I am excited by the recent report that Cameron County’s beaches are the cleanest in Texas” Rep. Lucio said. “Once again our county continues to be a leader in ensuring a safe and hospitable environment for our residents and guests. I encourage everyone who has never visited deep South Texas make their way down and enjoy our beautiful beaches.” Rep. Lucio added. Lucio authored HB 1059 in the past legislative session to promote use of green infrastructure to help reduce water pollution. The bill passed the House and Senate, but was vetoed by Gov. Abbott Fecal bacteria can make people ill, particularly with gastrointestinal ailments. Common sources of this pollution include stormwater runoff and sewage overflows. An estimated 57 million people nationwide get sick from contact with polluted waters annually, according to a study published in 2018 in Environmental Health.

The report includes several recommendations to prevent bacterial pollution and keep our beaches safe for swimming. Rain barrels, rooftop gardens, permeable pavement, and urban green space can all absorb stormwater runoff and reduce sewage overflows.
Environment Texas Research and Policy Center called on the Texas Water Development Board to set aside at least 20% of its funds, including the new Flood Infrastructure Fund, to help cities invest in green infrastructure.