Excessive Bacteria at Boca Chica Beach

Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - 8:58am

Flood run-off water in the Rio Grande River with high bacteria levels have made their way to Boca Chica Beach and state and local health officials are asking people to stay out of the water. News Center 23 reporter Daisy Martinez has more.

Thousands of people turned out this past weekend for the law enforcement fishing tournament held at Boca Chica Beach every summer.

Caught up in the excitement of the competition, some may have missed this posted sign at the beach entrance.

Such was the case for this group of vacationers from Houston. They say they've been swimming and fishing the entire weekend, and were surprised to learn that reports by the University of Texas Pan American Coastal Studies Laboratory indicates that the water has tested for excessive levels of bacteria which exceed health standards and could cause illness.

State and local officials say those who chose to go into the water despite the warning, run a greater risk of suffering from health complications like vomiting, diarrhea and other gastro-intestinal problems.

"Well we didn't know about the warnings until now that you're telling us, but now I'm worried because we've been in the water all weekend and I'm afraid to go back into the water now," Maria Iracheta said.

The Texas General Land Office Beach Watch Program has posted this information on their website, www.texasbeachwatch.com, Boca Chica beach is the only area along the Texas Coast with a current "high" level of bacteria in the water.

But this other beachgoer who has been in the water most of the weekend says he's not particularly worried about the bacteria levels in the water, but he has noticed some changes.

"If I were going to get sick I would've been sick today. It's been getting a little bit muddier, a little bit dirtier - we've been catching less fish today than yesterday."

Iracheta says officials could've made a better effort to post more of these signs to warn people of the health risks involved with spending a day at the beach.

Officials say they will continue testing the beach water to warn beach goers accordingly.

Reporting from Boca Chica Beach, Daisy Martinez, News Center 23.

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