Bacteria exceed safe levels for exposure, Health Department says
As a precaution, Sarasota County health officials have issued a “No swim” advisory at the Venice Fishing Pier, located at 1600 Harbor Drive South in Venice.
“The amount of enterococcus bacteria found during water quality testing on Wednesday, Aug. 3, was outside acceptable limits,” a news release says. The beach remains open. Wading, swimming and water recreation are not recommended as long as there is an advisory, the release points out. People are encouraged to read the signage and heed flags when present at area beaches.
“Some bacteria are naturally present in the environment,” the release explains. “However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found a link between health and water quality.” Signage advising the public not to swim or engage in water recreation at Venice Fishing Pier Beach will stay in place until follow-up water testing results meet the EPA’s recreational water quality standard, the release says. The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) expects to have the next round of test results available on Friday, Aug. 5.
Enterococcus bacteria can come from a variety of natural and man-made sources, the release continues. These include pet waste, livestock, birds, wildlife (land-dwelling and marine), stormwater runoff and human sewage from failed septic systems and sewage spills, the release adds. No sewage spills have been reported within 1 mile of the beach in the past month, the release notes.
“The rapid response teams from the city of Venice and Sarasota County have determined that the cause of the elevated bacteria levels is likely due to natural sources,” it continues. “Wrack lines of decaying algae were observed along the shoreline. Wrack lines, which contain marine algae and a variety of marine organisms that provide food for shorebirds and wildlife, act as natural bacteria reservoirs,” the release says. “A large amount of bird activity along the shoreline, which can contribute to these elevated readings, was also observed.” Recent heavy rains in the area, which washed accumulated pollutants — including bacteria from pet feces, birds and wildlife — into local waters are an important factor, the release notes. In addition, higher surf conditions associated with the recent storms churned up sand from the bottom and could have affected water quality, the release says.