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Monday, May 20, 2002

Ocean Water Quality Program Begins 15th Season

Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson announced today that the Atlantic County Ocean Water Quality Program will begin its fifteenth season this summer, providing weekly reports on bacterial samples taken from ocean waters on beaches along Brigantine, Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Longport. The toll free hotline, 1-800-633-SWIM, will be activated on May 23, 2002. The public can call the hotline 24 hours a day for the latest information on water quality.

Water samples will be taken each week at 34 sites in the five communities and tested for fecal coliform bacteria under the standards set by the New Jersey State Department of Health.

A highlight of this program is the Ocean Water Quality Index, created by Atlantic County and Atlantic City health officials to provide the public with accurate, easily understood information on the quality of our waters. Information is posted on the backs of lifeguard stands and stations along the Atlantic County shoreline for easy access.

The Ocean Water Quality Index is divided into five grades based on the number of bacteria per 100 milliliters of water.

Bacteria Count Rating

0 - 50 Excellent

50-100 Very Good

100-150 Good

150-200 Fair

Above 200 Poor (waters are closed to swimming)

Last year the ocean was tested each week for a period of 16 weeks. Results for the entire 2001 season, county wide, averaged in the "excellent" category with bacteria counts of less than 50.

The Ocean Water Quality Program is an annual project of the Atlantic County Division of Public Health in cooperation with the Atlantic City Health Department. For additional information, please contact Atlantic County Health Officer Tracye McArdle or Deputy County Health Officer Patricia Diamond at (609) 645-5935.

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