Caution should always be exercised in the canals as in all marine waters.
Swimming and other direct contact with the sea water in the canal could result in illness. Never swallow the water and always bathe immediately after swimming. Hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and fresh water after any contact with marine water.
Special precaution should be taken when it rains. James Jackson, Director of Aransas County Environmental Health, says that contamination of marine water is common, particularly from surface water runoff. He encourages everyone to stay out of the water for 48 hours after a heavy rain.
Water quality can fluctuate from day to day. Weekly, or even daily, tests would be needed to confidently predict the quality of the canal water. Even with frequent testing, results for different locations in the canal could vary. Such testing is not economically feasible. Yearly testing, as has been done in the past, could create a false security in the safety of the water; therefore, the BBPOA has decided to discontinue testing of the canal water.
For more information about possible risks, see Healthy Swimming/Recreational Water on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site.
The Texas Beach Watch Program, part of the Texas General Land Office (GLO), monitors Texas beaches for contamination. You can find information about beach advisories for nearby waters at Texas Beach Watch.