Fecal matter, bacteria pollutes Billy’s Creek at high rates

Waterways are contaminated with fecal matter, including creeks and rivers that are in some neighbors backyards.

Anna Vasquez lives right on Billy’s Creek. She worries about people who consume fish and get into the water.

“There’s people that go fishing and it’s nasty,” Vasquez said. “I wouldn’t eat the fish from there.”

John Cassani, who works for Calusa Waterkeeper, said Billy’s Creek and Estero Bay are polluted with fecal matter, along with bacteria at alarming rates. To close a beach down, there needs to be an indicator of 70.

“We’re seeing levels frequently over a thousand,” Cassani said.

“Wow,” Vasquez said. “Yeah, that’s bad.”

While Vasquez is shocked by the high levels, Cassani is upset by how long the problem has been going on.

“We’re a little bit aghast to find out that it’s in some of these waterways,” Cassani said. “It’s been a significant problem for two decades.”

Fecal contamination can cause rashes and gastrointestinal problems. But it could potentially be harmful for businesses.

“Economic impacts in terms of the perception that businesses might have about these warning signs,” Cassani said.

Right now, Cassani said the Florida Dept. of Education Protection is assessing the problem, which is projected to take years. He said local jurisdictions need to step forward in the meantime to get control of the situation.

Lee County recently got a grant to dredge Billy’s Creek, which is the first step in the process of finding a solution.

“They got to take care of the water,” Vasquez said, “because it’s contaminated and people can get sick.”

Reporter:Morgan Rynor
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