Community Life
Beach Contamination


Beach Contamination

What does this measure?

The percentage of water samples from public and semi-public (i.e. campgrounds, hotels, country clubs) beaches tested by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that were found to have greater levels of bacteria than what is considered safe for bathing.

Why is this important?

Essex County has many of the over 1,000 marine and freshwater public and semi-public bathing beaches in the state. Clean beach water helps to fuel tourism and provide recreation activities for residents, contributing to the overall well-being of the community.

How is our county doing?

In 2017, 4.3% of the water samples tested from local beaches exceeded the level of what is considered a safe amount of bacteria for bathing. This is higher than the state rate of 3.9% in 2017 and a decrease from their rate of 5.5% in 2004. Within the county, Saugus, at 19%, had the highest rate in 2017 - with the next-highest rates of 17% in Danvers.

How do we compare to similar counties?

Middlesex, MA, at 4.8%, had a higher rate of beach contamination than Essex County in 2017.

Notes about the data

No data available for Lake County, IL or Westchester County, NY.

Beach Contamination
20042005200620072008200920102011201220132014201520162017
Essex County, MA5.5%6.2%6.4%5.7%8.3%10.5%8.9%9.0%5.5%7.7%5.6%6.8%4.3%4.3%
Amesbury9.7%0.0%5.4%0.0%4.9%3.6%1.6%1.4%0.0%4.2%0.0%6.3%1.7%4.0%
Beverly4.8%1.6%7.7%8.1%7.0%14.2%12.6%10.7%6.6%9.2%9.0%7.9%5.0%7.0%
Gloucester4.8%0.0%0.0%0.0%3.5%3.2%5.0%2.6%1.4%1.1%0.0%0.0%2.1%3.7%
Haverhill0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%8.3%
Lynn35.6%38.2%26.4%17.9%44.9%48.1%25.3%36.9%13.7%17.5%12.3%24.4%17.0%7.8%
Methuen3.3%1.8%0.0%4.9%17.4%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%8.3%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Newburyport0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%3.1%0.0%7.1%0.0%0.0%8.8%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Salem5.9%7.8%11.5%9.9%1.7%7.0%6.1%4.5%2.0%5.8%3.5%4.5%0.0%7.2%
Andover0.0%3.1%4.8%4.4%4.2%0.0%0.0%5.7%0.0%7.7%0.0%1.6%1.7%1.7%
Boxford0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%7.7%0.0%2.3%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Danvers10.5%42.1%22.2%28.6%7.7%16.7%17.6%26.7%14.3%13.3%12.5%10.5%6.3%16.7%
Essex11.3%2.0%2.1%4.8%7.5%0.0%6.3%8.8%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Georgetown18.2%31.6%4.5%7.1%9.5%5.6%12.5%5.0%10.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%5.3%0.0%
Ipswich0.0%0.0%0.0%2.6%0.0%2.9%4.2%2.9%0.0%3.4%3.4%0.0%0.0%1.7%
Manchester0.0%2.6%6.4%4.1%8.8%4.8%11.5%7.5%9.2%3.2%1.5%1.6%1.6%
Marblehead6.2%12.2%8.4%2.4%1.2%16.4%13.1%6.3%7.1%12.0%5.8%4.0%2.8%1.4%
Middleton7.1%0.0%9.1%7.1%6.7%0.0%0.0%6.3%0.0%0.0%17.6%11.8%0.0%0.0%
Nahant1.1%9.2%10.5%3.7%4.5%3.5%4.5%6.8%6.0%7.5%2.3%2.8%2.9%1.5%
Newbury0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%50.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
North Andover2.4%4.5%2.4%5.0%7.3%15.6%11.5%3.8%0.0%22.2%14.3%3.7%0.0%2.4%
Rockport0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%8.3%0.0%0.0%0.0%2.5%
Salisbury0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%8.6%3.0%0.0%0.0%
Saugus17.2%13.3%16.7%3.3%18.9%5.9%12.1%27.7%21.6%9.4%18.9%8.6%3.3%18.9%
Swampscott0.0%7.7%3.4%7.6%3.2%9.7%12.0%10.0%7.8%5.4%1.4%7.7%2.7%5.3%
Topsfield0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Wenham0.0%0.0%6.7%0.0%18.8%15.4%21.4%7.1%0.0%0.0%4.2%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Middlesex County, MA4.3%6.1%4.2%3.0%6.2%2.3%4.9%6.9%3.0%5.3%3.9%5.5%3.4%4.8%
Massachusetts4.0%4.3%4.3%3.1%4.9%5.0%5.1%5.8%3.5%4.9%3.5%4.5%3.2%3.9%

Source: Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Notes: Rate represents the percent of samples exceeding bacteria threshold.




Number of Samples Exceeding Bacteria Threshold
20042005200620072008200920102011201220132014201520162017
Essex County, MA79881029012214412813685122891137071
Amesbury30403211030412
Beverly821110102019168121312710
Gloucester50002242110024
Haverhill00000000000001
Lynn2121191753503938314128664620
Methuen210815000001000
Newburyport00000104006000
Salem131522193121083857011
Andover01233003050111
Boxford00000010100000
Danvers28641234222213
Essex71123023000000
Georgetown46122131200010
Ipswich00020232022001
Manchester03851261510124222
Marblehead61182120137594221
Middleton10111001003200
Nahant11013454588113442
Newbury00000000002000
North Andover11123531064101
Rockport00000000030001
Salisbury00000000003100
Saugus546172413837317
Swampscott07352798641624
Topsfield0000000000000
Wenham00103231001000
Middlesex County, MA5269503568245478336343674260
Massachusetts603656684483758793789915543755525720506612

Source: Massachusetts Department of Public Health




INDICATORS TREND | ESSEX COUNTY