‘No swim’ advisory issued for Lido Casino Beach

County health officials say red drift algae on Lido Casino Beach may be contributing to the harmful levels of bacteria. Photo by Norman Schimmel

A “no swim” advisory has been issued for the second time in two weeks for Lido Casino Beach, 400 Ben Franklin Drive on Lido Key, Sarasota County Government has announced.

Health Department officials received testing results from beach water samples taken on Wednesday, Aug. 15, that showed an elevated level of enterococci (enteric) bacteria, a county news release says.

Signage advising the public not to swim or engage in water recreation at Lido Casino Beach will remain in place until follow-up water testing results meet the Environmental Protection Agency recreational water safety standards. The Health Department plans to conduct follow-up water sampling on Friday, Aug. 17, with results expected in the afternoon on Saturday, Aug. 18, the county news release says.

“We never like to issue advisories and are sensitive to their impact on the community. However, the intent of the Florida Healthy Beaches program is to provide residents and visitors with accurate, up-to-date information about the water quality at our 16 area beaches,” said Sarasota County Health Department Environmental Health Director Tom Higginbotham in the release.

Local health officials emphasize that people still can visit and enjoy the beach. However, residents and visitors are urged not to wade or swim in the water, or engage in water recreation, until the advisory is lifted. Shellfish collected in the immediate area of the Lido Casino Beach or any beach water that has a brown tint should not be consumed; however, it is safe to fish and consume fin fish from these waters.

The EPA water quality standards are very protective of human health. The “no-swim” advisories are based on elevated levels of indicator bacteria, some of which are naturally present in the environment.

“We know that these bacteria inhabit the intestines of warm-blooded humans and animals,” Higginbotham said in the release. “Therefore, when these bacteria are detected in high concentrations in recreational waters, there is a risk that some people who swallow water while swimming or have contact with water entering the skin through a cut or sore may become ill with gastrointestinal illnesses, infections or rashes.”

“Enteric bacteria can come from a variety of sources, including stormwater runoff, pet and wildlife waste and human sewage,” said Environmental Scientist Kathy Meaux of Sarasota County Environmental Utilities in the news release. “The local rapid response team that includes officials from Sarasota County Environmental Utilities has ruled out a sewage spill and storm water outfalls; however, we did observe massive amounts of algae along the shoreline and in the water, concluding that the elevated bacteria levels were likely from non-human sources,” she added.

“Our world-class beaches are a wonderful asset to our community. When making beach day plans, be sure to check the latest reports on beach conditions,” said Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County.

For more information:
• Visit www.OurGulfEnvironment.net,and click on “water monitoring,” then “bacterial testing” to check beach water testing results of area Gulf Coast beaches.
• Call 941-BEACHES (941-232-2437).
• Visit Sarasota County also provides extensive information about Sarasota, including its beaches. The website is www.visitsarasota.org.