Sanitary Surveys for Recreational Waters
A sanitary survey is a method of investigating the sources of fecal contamination to a waterbody. Sanitary surveys are often used for drinking water, shellfish, and watershed protection programs. They can also be used at beaches and other recreational waters. Sanitary surveys help state and local program managers and public health officials identify sources of water pollution, assess the magnitude of pollution, and identify priority locations for water testing.
Sanitary surveys for recreational waters involve collecting information at the beach or waterbody's shoreline, as well as in the surrounding watershed.
number of birds, dogs and people
location and condition of bathrooms
amount of algae.
location of storm water outfalls
surface water quality
residential septic tank information.
Program managers for beaches and other recreational waters can use the sanitary survey results to prioritize state or county resource allocations to help improve recreational water quality. In addition, they can use sanitary survey data (e.g., bacteria levels, source flow, turbidity, rainfall) to develop models to predict recreational water quality.
EPA has developed routine and more comprehensive annual sanitary surveys for both fresh and marine waters. In addition, EPA has updated its recreational sanitary survey app, EPA Sanitary Survey App for Marine and Fresh Waters, which helps waterbody managers evaluate and share all contributing waterbody and watershed information, to include all four sanitary survey forms.
EPA Sanitary Survey App for Marine and Fresh Waters
The EPA Sanitary Survey App for Marine and Fresh Waters (App) helps waterbody managers evaluate all waterbody and watershed information including water quality data, pollution source data, and land use data. The data from the App can be exported for use in predictive models and for sharing within or between agencies (e.g., public health and environmental).
The App includes routine and more comprehensive annual sanitary surveys for both fresh and marine waters. The App enables jurisdictions to easily gather information on possible existence of harmful algal blooms, in addition to sources of bacterial pollution.
Compatibility with all mobile/handheld devices (smartphones, iPads, tablets and laptops)
Free to use or store data compared to other similar apps
Accessibility through Survey123 via Google Play, Apple’s App Store and any browser
Connectivity to WiFi or Internet not required for use in the field
Ability to include photos
Geolocates beach and waterbody locations
Ability to download data in several file formats including Shapefiles, CSV, Excel, and GeoJSON.
EPA Sanitary Survey App Data Export Tool
This tool makes downloading data including photo attachments for one or more sanitary surveys quick and easy.
Model Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) for Sanitary Survey App
This model QAPP supports participatory scientists with the development of quality assurance project plans (QAPPs) for collecting environmental data and information using the EPA Sanitary Survey App for Marine and Fresh Waters. Use of the app requires a QAPP. The model QAPP provides a template that participatory science groups can tailor with their own project-specific information, when collecting data using the app and paper versions of the sanitary surveys.
Sanitary Surveys for Marine Waters
EPA has developed routine and annual surveys that are specific to marine beaches. They are included in EPA’s Sanitary Survey App for Marine and Fresh Waters and are available in pdf versions. The survey forms include detailed questions on winds, tides, and other characteristics that affect marine waters and were not included on the surveys for fresh waters such as the Great Lakes, lakes, rivers and streams.
- Marine Sanitary Survey User Manual (pdf)
- Marine Routine Sanitary Survey for Recreational Waters (pdf)
- Marine Annual Sanitary Survey (pdf)
Sanitary Surveys for Fresh Waters
EPA has developed routine and annual sanitary surveys that are specific to fresh (i.e., non-marine) recreational waters like lakes, rivers, and streams. They are included in EPA’s Sanitary Survey App for Marine and Fresh Waters and are available in pdf versions.