FGCU releases preliminary findings on Estero River water quality

Florida Gulf Coast University has been keeping tabs on the Estero River to see what might be lurking in the water.

What have they found so far?

“It did verify that the Estero River has elevated concentrations of bacteria, something enough that we should pay attention to,” said Dr. Don Duke, professor of environmental studies.

The Village of Estero is in the early stages of figuring out how to solve it.

“This isn’t just an Estero problem; it’s a problem around the whole United States, it’s a major problem for Florida,” said Mayor Bill Ribble.

Duke updated council members on FGCU’s ongoing research.

“The issue with the indicator bacteria that I mentioned is that these bacteria grow in the colons of warm-blooded animals. Humans of course are some of those animals, but birds, mammals, pets, livestock also can contribute some of those same indicators.”

One of the possible sources: septic tanks.

“We can’t afford not to do this,” Ribble said, meaning the village is looking at communities where switching from septic to sewer is feasible.

Some of the first up for consideration: Estero Bay Village, Sunny Groves, Cypress Bend and River Ranch Road.

The potential switch is welcome news for retired professor Joe Miceli.

“Whatever pollution we can eliminate from dumping into the Estero River will be better for everybody,” he said.

Moving homeowners from septic to sewer isn’t an easy feat. The village council will first have to determine payment options and the process itself could take a couple of years.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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