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Recreational Water Quality

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Cape Cod is famous for its expansive shoreline and beautiful, pristine beaches as well as sparkling lakes and kettle ponds. With a local population of over 215,000 people and a tremendous influx of visitors during the summer season, it’s important to address any possible public health concerns related to our bathing waters.

Each year, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Barnstable County operates a beach sampling program that conducts collection and bacteriological analysis of marine and fresh beach water at over 350 locations from Woods Hole to Provincetown on a weekly basis. In 2015, over 4,600 samples were taken, with bacterial exceedence rates of 1.72% for public marine beach water and 1.89% for public fresh beach water. These rates indicate exceptional overall water quality at Cape Cod’s beaches. For more information regarding our beach sampling program including a list of public beach sampling results (updated daily during the bathing season), please visit our Bathing Beach Water Quality page.

In addition to bacteriological water quality, our Department receives numerous inquiries related to Cercarial Dermatitis (Swimmer’s Itch), red tide and other harmful algae blooms (HABs). While our department does not directly monitor these issues, we have provided a list of helpful resources below.

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