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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Beach Advisories

The NHDES Beach Program provides a current list of beach advisories throughout the state. To view current beach advisories, go to the Current Advisories page.

Reasons for beach advisories
NHDES posts beach advisories when sample analyses result in bacteria levels above the state standard, indicating the possible presence of disease-causing organisms, or a toxic cyanobacteria scum. These advisories are recommendations to the public to avoid water contact activities at the beach until further analyses reveal safe conditions.

When is a Beach Advisory posted?
Bacteria signAt a freshwater beach, an advisory is posted if either two or more samples collected at a beach exceed the state standard of 88 counts of E. coli per 100 milliliters (ml) of water OR when one sample exceeds 158 counts of E. coli per 100 ml of water.

At any beach, an advisory is posted if a potential toxin-producing cyanobacterial scum is present at the beach and cell dominance is greater than 50 percent of the sample total cell count At any beach, an advisory is posted if a potential toxin-producing cyanobacterial scum is present at the beach and cell dominance is greater than 50 percent of the sample total cell count OR the cyanobacteria cell count is greater than 70,000 cells per ml of water.

At a coastal beach, an advisory is posted if sample results exceed the state standard of 104 counts of Enterococci per 100 ml of water.

NHDES works cooperatively with municipalities, state departments or beach managers to post these advisories. The Beach Program has produced three signs to indicate a beach advisory. Click here to view samples of the signs.

Beach managers may use their own discretion to actively close a beach to the public. They may place barriers at the entrances or post signs indicating the closure. The municipality must notify the Beach Program of their intentions to close a particular beach.

How does NHDES follow-up on beach advisories?
The Beach Program will immediately resample all beaches upon issuing an advisory. Once it has been determined that the bacteria concentration is within the state standard, the advisory signs will be removed from the beach area.

Any listings for beach advisories that were placed on the NHDES web site will be updated as results are available.

Photo of beach walkers

How will I know if it's safe to swim at my local beach?
There are several ways to determine whether it's safe to swim at a beach.

  • Check the Current Advisories page. Only beaches currently under an advisory are listed on the advisory page.
  • Contact the NHDES Beach Program at Staff will be able to give you information on whether the beach is part of the Beach Program and if water quality is monitored at that beach.
  • Look for any advisory signs to be posted at the beach entrance. If there are none posted, this will indicate that this beach is not currently posted and is open for recreation. However, the absence of an advisory sign does not necessarily mean that NHDES has recently monitored the beach.
  • Contact your local health official. A health official will be able to inform you whether a beach advisory has been posted at the beach you plan to visit.
  • Are there waterfowl present in the area? If not, check the water for any visible signs that waterfowl have been present. Floating feathers are an indication that waterfowl may have been present prior to your visit. Waterfowl at a beach can contribute high levels of E. coli bacteria.

Do you notice any blue-green colored masses floating in the water? These may indicate the presence of toxic cyanobacteria. If you are at all concerned, please keep your children and domestic animals from entering the water. Contact your local health official/beach manager or the NHDES Beach Program and indicate where the scum was observed.

Where do I find data for my beach?
Beach data can be found at NHDES’s OneStop data retrieval site. Follow these instructions once at the OneStop – Search page:

  1. Under "Areas of Interest" select "Beaches."
  2. Under “Location” select name of Town/City or County if desired.
  3. Under “Beaches” select any variables desired to limit search results.
  4. Select “Enter” to obtain a list of beaches that match your search.

On the results page, click “Show” to find individual beach information, advisories and sample results.

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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