Pinpointing SWFL waterways to form a plan for fecal bacteria cleanup

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Waterway with bacteria. (Credit: WINK News)
Waterway with bacteria. (Credit: WINK News)

Florida Department of Environmental Protection said many local rivers and other waterways are new to the list of waters that exceed the standards for bacteria and fecal matter. On Wednesday, the state began the long process to clean them up.

State and local leaders have a large task in front of them. There is a new water quality crisis with no quick solution. Bacteria, including fecal matter in the water, has the potential to make any person coming in contact sick.

Michael Monaghan and his wife have been living in the Naples area for 14 years. The pair hopes leaders can restore their slice of paradise.

“We’re well aware of it and any attempt by people to change it,” Michael said. “Attitudes, especially with the sewage discharge, you have to deal with that.”

The FDEP shared data, including a map of Southwest Florida, which pinpoints what areas that need help. There are waterways in red identifying the areas that need cleanup. The first step is to trace the source of fecal matter and bacteria.

Something that needs to be determined in this first step is if the source is human waste, animal waste or both.

Water quality leaders will review the data FDEP presented Wednesday and begin to prioritize which waterways need the most help. Presently, there is no estimate on how much it will cost to rid the water of bacteria.

Charlette Roman, a board member on the Southwest Florida Water Mangement District, said now that they have this information, it is time to partner up and hit the ground running.

“Water is Florida,” Charlette said. “People come here to enjoy the water, to go out on the boat, to fish. It’s important that we have healthy waterways priority. That’s got to be our priority.”

The Monaghans could not agree more with that statement.

“The people in Naples they do an excellent job,” Michael said. “They know tourism is a prime attraction, so I’m sure that given the right amount of funds, of course, it’s always money that they’ll do what they need to do and they’ll keep up with it.”

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