Recreational Waters: Bathing Beaches

Training Overview

There are over 1,000 public and semi-public bathing beaches (referred to as “beaches” for the purposes of this training) in Massachusetts. This includes both freshwater (lakes) and marine (ocean). The water quality of these beaches is important to public health and safety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s most recent finalized data (from 2011/2012), there were 90 water-associated health outbreaks that resulted in at least 1,788 cases and 95 hospitalizations. Through a coordinated effort, federal, state, and local public health agencies established a framework of programs that strive to protect the health, safety, and well-being of beach users, and to prevent waterborne disease. Local boards of health (LBOH) should monitor beaches and water quality, notify the public when bathing water quality doesn’t meet the standards, and work in partnership with operators to ensure the minimum standards for beaches are met.

Enroll To receive a certificate of completion. This requires registration to establish a learner profile and completion of pre- and post-tests
Audit To view as an online resource without a certificate of completion

What you’ll learn

After completing this training, you will be able to:

  • Describe three sources of contamination and two safety hazards that may be present at beaches
  • List the four directives of the Massachusetts Beaches Act
  • State the purpose of 105 CMR 445.000 (445) and the three requirements of Christian’s Law
  • Summarize four LBOH functions to ensure beaches comply with 445
  • Give two examples of LBOH activities that promote the health, safety, and well-being of beach users.

Subject Matter Experts

  • Michael Celona
    Environmental Toxicology Program, Water Toxics Unit Chief
    Massachusetts Department of Public Health

  • Kathleen MacVarish
    Associate Professor of the Practice
    Director of Practice Programs at the Activist Lab
    Boston University School of Public Health


This training and all supporting material was supported by funds made available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support, under B01OT009024. Additionally, this training was supported by the Grant Number, 5U90TP116997-10, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. This project is also supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant UB6HP27877.
The views and opinions expressed as part of the training and all related documents and course materials are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions or the official position of, or endorsement by, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, its Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program, the Office of Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Hospital Preparedness Program, or that of HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.