There's So Much Poop On Texas Beaches It Can Make Swimmers Sick

By Anna Gallegos

July 21, 2021

Photo: Getty Images; Edited by Anna Gallegos

There's something in the water at Texas beaches. No, it's not just the sharks.

A report from the Environment Texas Research and Policy Center found that the majority of Texas beaches had unsafe levels of fecal bacteria at least one day out of the year. In 2020, 61 Texas beaches were tested and 55 of them were found to be unsafe.

“Unfortunately, we still have billions of gallons of sewage overflow and runoff pollution running into our waterways,” John Rumpler, senior attorney with Environment America and the report’s co-author, told KPRC.

“To be blunt, sewage means poop. And runoff pollution contains all kinds of pathogens that are on our roadways and other built-up surfaces that get swept up into our waters.”

Swimming in the unsafe water can cause serious illnesses like gastrointestinal illness, respiratory disease, ear and eye infection and skin rashes, among other issues.

The report identified Cole Park Beach, Ropes Park Beach, and the Corpus Christi Marina in Nueces County; Surfside Beach, Follet’s Island Beach, and Quintana Beach in Brazoria County; Sylvan Bach Park in Harris County; Sargent Beach and Jetty Park Beach in Matagorda County; and Nueces Bay Causeway Beach #3 in San Patricio County as the most unsafe beaches in Texas. Corpus Christi's Cole Park Beach was potentially unsafe for swimming during 91 percent of tested days. 

This doesn't mean that beachgoers should no longer stick their toes in the water. The Texas General Land Office, which oversees public beaches, regularly tests beaches for unsafe bacteria levels and shares its findings on the Texas Beach Watch website.

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