Beach Bacteria Monitoring

COVID-19 Beach Safety Update

In light of the current pandemic, and with many of us seeking solace from our beautiful Maine beaches, concerns about infection risk from swimming are understandable. According to the CDC, “There is no evidence showing anyone has gotten COVID-19 through drinking water, recreational water, or wastewater. The risk of COVID-19 transmission through water is expected to be low.” 

Shaw Institute will continue to monitor five swimming sites around the Blue Hill Peninsula for evidence of human waste, as an essential public service to local beachgoers. It is uncertain whether or not virus particles from human waste can infect others, but the chances of this are likely low. Despite a low risk of transmission, we hope to keep swimmers informed of potential exposure risks via our weekly bacteria reports. We also strongly encourage beachgoers to maintain a minimum of six feet of distance as per CDC guidelines.

Because COVID-19 is a novel virus, scientific understanding of the disease is continually evolving. Shaw Institute aims to keep the community updated on best practices surrounding beach use, swimming, and COVID-19 as new research emerges. Please note, beach closures will be determined by the relevant local municipality. For ongoing information on beach bacteria levels around the Blue Hill Peninsula, you can request to join our weekly Beach Bacteria mailing list by emailing

Federal Information Resources
U.S. CDC Water and COVID-19 FAQs 
U.S. CDC Beach and Park Use Guidance https:

Weekly Beach Bacteria Reports 2020 

Reports are organized by sampling location. Each report will be updated as new data is collected.

Summary Report (August 21-28)

Weekly Reports by Sampling Site
Blue Hill Town Park
Carrying Place Beach 
Curtis Cove Beach*
Peters Cove
Surry Town Wharf 

* Bacteria Alert: Curtis Cove Input Stream 
 Please be aware Curtis Cove stream frequently exceeds the safety levels of bacteria set by the EPA. Please use caution and avoid the stream area. Shaw Institute is working with the landowners to post signs and determine the source of the bacteria.  NOTE: We have paused sampling on the stream to further investigate the pollution source. Assume bacteria levels exceed safety levels.

Bacteria Monitoring

Enterococci bacteria, though not harmful themselves, indicate the presence of fecal contamination and potentially harmful bacteria in the water. These harmful bacteria are known to cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, ear infections, and fever in recreational swimmers. Young children and people with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible.
Many beaches around the country are monitored by private and government agencies to prevent public health risks of this kind, but the Shaw Institute's Blue Hill Research Center is the only organization that monitors beaches in the Blue Hill area. We provide this monitoring as a public service for free to the community since our area is too small to be monitored by government agencies.
We follow very stringent protocols from the Environmental Protection Agency and Maine Healthy Beaches for both sampling and processing of the bacteria samples. Due to the 24+ processing time for each sample weekly results are posted to our website, 24 to 48 hours after sampling. Any results that are higher than the EPA’s bacteria level threshold are also reported to the Blue Hill Town Hall.
The EPA advises that the maximum acceptable Enterococci bacteria count is 104 in any single sample of marine water at a designated beach area. The full description of the 1986 EPA Water Quality Criteria for Bacteria can be found here.

Five local beaches will be monitored from June 2019 to September 2019. You can find recent reports by clicking the link of the beach location you are interested in viewing below.


Archive: Weekly Reports 2019

Summary Report (Aug. 29 - Sept. 5)

Curtis Cove Beach
Blue Hill Town Park

Sampling sites:

Blue Hill Town Park (Aug. 29 - Sept. 5)

Carrying Place Beach (Aug. 29 - Sept. 5)

Curtis Cove Beach (Aug. 29 - Sept. 5)

KYC (Aug. 29 - Sept. 5)

Peters Cove (Aug. 29 - Sept. 5)

Archive: Weekly Reports 2018 

Final monitoring report for 2018 by sampling location:

Blue Hill Town Park - Sept 17

Carrying Place Beach - Sept 17

Curtis Cove Beach - Sept 17

KYC - Sept 5

Peters Cove - Sept 17

Archive: Weekly Reports 2017


Blue Hill Town Park - July 7 - Aug 22

Carrying Place Beach- July 7 - Aug 22 2017

Curtis Cove Beach - July 7 - Aug 22 2017

KYC - July 7 - Aug 22 2017

Peters Cove - July 7 - Aug 22 2017


Archive: Weekly Reports 2016

Water Quality Monitoring Report - September 16 2016

Water Quality Monitoring Report - September 7 2016

Water Quality Monitoring Report - August 31 2016

Water Quality Monitoring Report - August 24 2016

Water Quality Monitoring Report - August 18 2016

Water Quality Monitoring Report - August 8 2016

Water Quality Monitoring Report - August 3 2016

Water Quality Monitoring Report - July 20 2016

​Water Quality Monitoring Report - July 7 2016