According to a U.S. Geological Service (USGS) study, a new, rapid water-quality test developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may prevent beach closures by providing accurate, same-day bacteria-level results. Evidently, previous tests could not provide same-day results, so managers had to decide whether to close a beach based on findings from the day before. USGS asserts that “if the new method had been used during the study period examined, the summers of 2009 and 2010, it may have prevented hundreds of beach closure days and possibly significantly decreased incidences of waterborne illnesses.”

USGS says that the new rapid test, which EPA recommends but does not require, is included in the 2012 EPA guidelines for safe levels of indicator bacteria, including Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Enterococci. The test can apparently be used at both freshwater and marine beaches. See USGS News Release, March 18, 2013.