Fecal bacteria is the new water crisis in Southwest Florida

Published: April 23, 2019 6:48 PM EDT
Updated: April 24, 2019 10:06 PM EDT

Bacteria is contaminating water all along our coast.

There is a new water crisis in Southwest Florida. It is not algae or red tide, but bacteria and fecal matter where we kayak and fish.

John Cassani, a Calusa Waterkeeper said the test results made public by the Department of Environmental Protection are alarming.

“What’s unusual though about this list is the type of water bodies that are being impaired,” Cassani said. “And what’s important about that is that many of these in-fact all of the Estero Bay tributaries are what we call outstanding Florida waters.

“They’re designated for special protection because of their high value and high water quality value,” Cassani said.

Florida Gulf Coast University Micro Biologist Matthew Swearingen said runoff is a likely source of bacteria.

“A lot of rain causes the runoff into the water, that can come from animals,” Swearingen said.

The next step is dictated by the Clean Water Act, which is to remove the pollutant and restore the waterway to safe conditions, according to Swearingen.

Cassani said the law requires local and state governments to develop a plan to clean up the water.