UPDATE: Health Officials Test Water Quality - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

UPDATE: Health Officials Test Water Quality

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Panama City, Fla. -

The Bay County Health Department is responding to water quality reports that reflect poorly on 2 area beaches.

This follows Sunday's News 13 report about more than two months of public health advisories at Carl Gray Park and 40 days of notices on Beach Drive.

The Health Department samples 13 area beaches every week and posts its results onto their website to let the public know when there are problems, followed by a posted advisory on location if necessary.

But officials say water quality can change from day to day, leaving people out of the clear.

"This particular case in Carl Gray tends to be a problem for a period of time and you get an abnormal spike in this area and that's due to a lot of times, point source contamination." said Doug Kent, Bay County Health Department Director.

The water at Carl Gray Park is seen as an ever changing source with contaminants entering the water through the help of people, animals and water flowing into the bay.

"It's sporadic in that the factors that cause this to show up. For instance, the storm water run off is one source of bacteria entering the water. When you get rainfall that washes bacteria off of the land into the water." said Norman Amoss, Beach Sampling Director.

Amoss and his team tests the waters of 13 area beaches for enterococcus, primarily found in feces. They've found these 2 beaches to have elevated amounts of bacteria.

In their testing, they consider the current flow, tidal forces and wind direction, but observing all aspects, officials still find it difficult to track bacteria.

"One day you will not, maybe for a week or so you will not have an advisory and then you will come by there and you'll see that we posted an advisory because we've had a spike in the area." Kent said.

Advisories are also posted on a weekly basis, but with sporadic changes, there's a chance for health risks.

"That bacteria is safe if they it's existing in certain numbers. For if those numbers start exceeding, and then you might have some infectious process like gastroenteritis, a little bit of fever, or diarrhea." said Dr. Marwan Obid.

Obid adds that the concentration of enterococcus is what can get someone sick, not the quantity.

He also suggests that if you do decide to swim at these beaches, be sure to rinse thoroughly in fresh water as a precaution.