An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Sarasota County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

UPDATE: 3 ‘No Swim’ advisories lifted, 2 added

SARASOTA – The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County conducted water quality resampling of beaches on Friday, Aug. 6. Testing results received today indicate that bacteria levels remain outside of acceptable limits and “No Swim” advisories remain in place at the following beaches:

  • Bird Key Park/Ringling Causeway
  • Turtle Beach
  • Nokomis Beach
  • Manasota Key
  • Blind Pass

Additionally, test results indicate that bacteria levels are outside of acceptable limits and “No Swim” advisories are now issued for these beaches:

  • Venice Beach
  • Venice Pier

Some bacteria are naturally present in the environment. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found a link between health and water quality. Signage advising the public not to swim or engage in water recreation will stay in place until follow-up water testing results meet the EPA’s recreational water quality standards.

The “No Swim” advisories that has been in place since Thursday, Aug. 5 at Longboat Key, Brohard, and Capserson beaches have been lifted as test results are at satisfactory levels for enterococcus bacteria and meet both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state recreational water standards. The “No Swim” advisory signage will be removed at Longboat Key, Brohard, and Casperson beaches; however, Red Tide advisory signage for the Karenia brevis algae bloom currently off the coastline will remain in place until conditions improve.

The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County will sample beaches again on Monday, Aug. 9.

Enterococcus bacteria can come from a variety of natural and human-made sources. These include pet waste, livestock, birds, wildlife (land-dwelling and marine), stormwater runoff, and human sewage from failed septic systems and sewage spills.

No sewage spills have been reported within one mile of the posted beaches in the past two weeks.

The rapid response team from Sarasota County and City of Venice has determined the cause of the elevated bacteria levels is likely due to natural sources. The team observed a wrack line of decaying algae and numerous dead and decaying fish associated with red tide impacting the area among the rocks and along the shoreline. Wrack lines, which provide food for shorebirds and wildlife, act as natural bacteria reservoirs. Additionally, significant rainfall amounts may be contributing to the higher bacteria levels by washing accumulated pollutants from the land surface into waterways.

Local health officials emphasize that beaches remain open. However, residents and visitors are urged not to wade, swim, or engage in water recreation at this beach until the advisory is lifted. In addition, you should not eat shellfish such as crabs and shrimp collected in the immediate area of any beach with a no-swim advisory in place. Finfish caught live and healthy can be eaten if filleted.

“Our coastline of over 30 miles of world-class beaches is a wonderful asset to our community,” says Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County. “Let’s work together to help preserve this amenity.”

To help keep beach water safe for swimming and recreation, do not allow pets to roam on beaches and in park areas and pick up pet waste. Additionally, children in diapers and people of all ages with diarrhea should not go into the water.

“It is important to continue monitoring beach conditions when planning a trip to one of our many beach destinations, said Haley. Please follow the consistent Mote Beach Conditions reports for up-to-date news and info. There, you can find several types of information about Southwest Florida beaches during Red Tide events.”

Those visiting beaches are remined to take appropriate actions to protect against COVID-19 while at the beach by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, practicing good handwashing habits, and above all staying at home when you’re sick.

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