The performance and specificity of the covalently linked immunomagnetic separation-ATP (Cov-IMS/ATP) method for the detection and enumeration of enterococci was evaluated in recreational waters. Cov-IMS/ATP performance was compared with standard methods: defined substrate technology (Enterolert; IDEXX Laboratories), membrane filtration (EPA Method 1600), and an Enterococcus-specific quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay (EPA Method A). We extend previous studies by (i) analyzing the stability of the relationship between the Cov-IMS/ATP method and culture-based methods at different field sites, (ii) evaluating specificity of the assay for seven ATCC Enterococcus species, (iii) identifying cross-reacting organisms binding the antibody-bead complexes with 16S rRNA gene sequencing and evaluating specificity of the assay to five nonenterococcus species, and (iv) conducting preliminary tests of preabsorption as a means of improving the assay. Cov-IMS/ATP was found to perform consistently and with strong agreement rates (based on exceedance/compliance with regulatory limits) of between 83% and 100% compared to the culture-based Enterolert method at a variety of sites with complex inputs. The Cov-IMS/ATP method is specific to five of seven different Enterococcus spp. tested. However, there is potential for nontarget bacteria to bind the antibody, which may be reduced by purification of the IgG serum with preabsorption at problematic sites. The findings of this study help to validate the Cov-IMS/ATP method, suggesting a predictable relationship between the Cov-IMS/ATP method and traditional culture-based methods, which will allow for more widespread application of this rapid and field-portable method for coastal water quality assessment.