Bacterial Objectives

State Water Boards Bacterial Objectives

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) is proposing a statewide bacteria water quality objectives and implementation options to protect recreational users from the effects of pathogens in California water bodies. The objectives and implementation options are proposed as a new part 3 of the Water Quality Control Plan for the Inland Surface Waters, Enclosed Bays, and Estuaries of California, and as an amendment to the Water Quality Control Plan for Oceans Waters of California.

Official Documents and Timeline

Focus Group Outreach

Focus Group Meeting were held to obtain early input on the scope of the proposed bacteria objectives.

Existing statutes and regulations

  • Ocean Beaches AB 411, Chaptered into law in 1997 added Sections 115880-115915 to the California Health and Safety Code.
    These statutes (AB411 is the shorthand) are for the California beach water quality monitoring program that samples fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) and provides public notification if it is safe to swim based at 476 California coastal and San Francisco Bay saltwater beaches.
  • U.S. EPA Recreational Water Quality Criteria
    U.S. EPA's nationally recommended Recreational Water Quality Criteria (RWQC) protect human health in inland and coastal waters. The criteria are designed to protect primary contact recreation, such as swimming, surfing, and diving.
  • CDPH Beaches and Recreational Waters
    The California Department of Public Health provides links to the Regulations (based on AB411 statutes) and guidance material to assist local health agencies in addressing microbiological contamination of fresh and saltwater beaches and recreational waters.
  • US EPA Nationwide Bacteria Standards Protect Swimmers at Beaches
    A 2004 US EPA overview of the implementation of Beach safety programs nationwide based on the 2000 BEACH Act.

Staff Contacts

Stephanie Rose (Inland Waters)
(916) 341-5574
Karen Black (Ocean Waters)
(916) 341-6899

Rebecca Fitzgerald, Program Manager
(916) 341-5775


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  (Page last updated 2/22/18)