As of 8/21/19, all Provincetown beaches are open, following routine Barnstable County Water Quality Sampling.
Q. Why are Provincetown beaches tested?
Simply put, to protect public health. The beach water samples are analyzed for “indicator” organisms, which are not harmful themselves, but indicate the potential for the presence of human pathogens. A human pathogen is an organism or virus that is capable of producing an illness in a human host.
Q. How do these organisms and pathogens get into the bathing water?
Stormwater runoff is the dominant cause for elevated indicator bacteria levels. Runoff carries pollutants from roads and other paved surfaces directly to the surface water of beaches and ponds. Other possible causes are animal waste from pets as well as wild animals. Common waste observed on beaches can be from dogs, fox, seals, seagulls, ducks and geese. Most warm-blooded animals carry the same indicator bacterium used to classify recreational waters.
Q. If a beach is posted closed to swimming can I still go to the beach?
Many safe activities can be enjoyed while the beach is closed to bathing and swimming. Examples include: walking on the beach, collecting seashells, building sand castles, and playing sport activities such as volleyball, paddleball, Frisbee, football, etc.