Beneath the surface: FGCU researchers test Imperial River, Spring Creek for bacteria

What’s in your water?

That’s what a team of Florida Gulf Coast University researchers are trying to figure out.

To better understand our water, researchers had to go beneath the surface. Sometimes, elbow deep.

The crew, made up of FGCU students and scientists, is on the job, testing for bacteria in the Imperial River and Spring Creek.

The client? The City of Bonita Springs.

“We’re talking about human fecal coliform bacteria because bacteria that originates with humans and get into our public waters are the kinds of things that can carry disease,” said FGCU Professor of Environmental Studies Dr. Don Duke.

“Today is the first day under the contract sampling and the results will be recorded,” said FGCU biology senior, Dominick Avallone.

FGCU researchers test for bacteria in Imperial River (WINK News)

While the crew finds typical water characteristics almost instantaneously…

“The dissolved oxygen and all of that stuff, it’s pretty straight forward because of the equipment we have,” said FGCU environmental studies senior, Ian Lisle.

…testing for bacteria will take longer.

“We expect to use this to build up a picture over six months or a year and understand trends and, most importantly, understand locations where this might be originating,” said Duke.

So he and his students will be back to repeat these tests.

“It’s not like a water body is polluted yes or no, switches on and off. There’s always some bacteria in nature. Period,” he said.

Finding out where it’s coming from is the key to cleaning this water up.

Once they finish collecting samples, Duke and his students will bring them to FGCU’s lab to test and count bacteria.

Testing will take roughly six months, but could go longer if they need more wet season samples.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
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