FORT WALTON BEACH — The Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County has issued health advisories for three swimming areas after water samples showed higher-than-average levels of fecal bacteria.

The affected swimming areas are Liza Jackson Park in Fort Walton Beach, Poquito Bayou in Shalimar and Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park in Niceville. The health advisory is based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standards for enterococci. This should be considered a potential health risk to the bathing public.

The Health Department conducts bi-weekly saltwater quality monitoring at 11 sites through the Healthy Beaches Monitoring Program. Samples are collected from March through the end of October. The water samples are analyzed for enteric bacteria (enterococci) that normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals and which may cause disease, infections, or rashes. The presence of enteric bacteria is a sign of fecal pollution, which may come from stormwater runoff, pets and wildlife, and human sewage.

If you have questions, contact the DOH-Okaloosa at 850-833-9247 or 850-689-7859. You can also visit www.HealthyOkaloosa.com and click the “Healthy Beaches” link to be taken to a list of Okaloosa County’s Healthy Beaches sites, sampling results and maps.