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Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Toll-Free Hotline Tracks Water Quality at Area Beaches

Beginning this Memorial Day weekend, county beach-goers can be certain they are swimming in clean water thanks to the Ocean Water Quality Program coordinated by the Atlantic County Division of Public Health in cooperation with the Atlantic City Health Department.

"By calling our toll-free hotline, 1-800-633-SWIM, residents and visitors can access the latest information on water quality at their favorite beach," explained Atlantic Couty Executive Dennis Levinson. Information is also available online at and at area lifeguard stations.

For the past 16 years the Ocean Water Quality Index has been used to rate water conditions at Atlantic County beaches. Health officials take weekly water samples throughout the summer at 34 different sites in Brigantine, Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Longport. Each water sample is then tested for bacteria according to standards set by the New Jersey State Department of Health.

The Ocean Water Quality Index includes the following five grades, based on the number of bacteria per 100 milliliters of water:

0-50 Excellent
50-100 Very Good
100-150 Good
150-200 Fair
above 200 Poor (waters closed to swimming)

"The Ocean Water Quality Index is a great tool that enables us to provide simple and accurate information on the quality of our waters," commented County Health Officer Tracye McArdle. "We are pleased to report that overall, Atlantic County ocean water quality earned an 'excellent' rating for the 2002 season."

The Ocean Water Quality Program's toll-free hotline, 1-800-633-SWIM, will be activated beginning Friday, May 23. For more information on this program, log onto or call the Atlantic County Division of Public Health at 609-645-5935.

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