Researchers try to pinpoint the source of fecal matter in the Estero River

Scientists will start looking into dangerous fecal bacteria in the Estero River that could make you sick.

From an aerial view, there is no way to tell that the Estero River is polluted with microscopic bacteria. But it is where Florida Gulf Coast University scientists will start what they call intricate work to find the source or sources of feces dirtying the waterway.

Don Duke, one of the scientists leading the research project, told WINK News his team would step up the testing process. Currently, Lee County tests the Estero River once a month, which is not sufficient to track the pattern and source of the bacteria.

“We’ll be testing the river at regular times and we’ll be testing the river after heavy storms,” Duke said. “If we find out the bacteria is elevated after storms, then that will be another kind of source, that will be surface.”

Testing will start in early August and will last about a year. Once researchers can pinpoint the source, they will give the data to Estero, who will then take steps to correct the issue.

Toshi Urakawa, a professor at the FGCU Water School, showed us how researchers would analyze the river. After determining which parts of the river have a higher concentration of bacteria, then they will do DNA testing to see if it is from humans or animals.

“We can actually source them,” said Greg Tolley, an executive director of the FGCU Water School. “We can actually identify what the source of the bacteria is and once you have that information, it’s much easier to find a way to solve the problem.”

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
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