Calusa Waterkeeper, City of Fort Myers find differing fecal bacteria data

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

Efforts to clean up Billy Creek are getting a boost. The City of Fort Myers and Calusa Waterkeeper are working together surveying Billy Creek to help make our water cleaner.

“We sample nine locations, four of which are on Billy Creek,” said David Hempleman.

The problem is, surveyors are getting conflicting data.

The city works with a company to sample creek water for fecal bacteria. Their data from June 2020 says birds are the source of bacteria.

“This is where the Calusa Waterkeepers could be helpful if they run their own independent data so they have information, that would be useful to our efforts,” said Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson.

Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani says they tried to keep their own data. “We’d sent him a letter back in January 2018 saying we wanted to work together on developing a Billys Creek Restoration Plan.”

But Calusa Waterkeeper data shows human fecal indicator bacteria. “The problem is, they’re not looking at other data that points at human contamination,” Cassani said. “The state sampled and found human DNA and they didn’t discuss any of that today.”

At a workshop Tuesday afternoon, the City of Fort Myers highlighted different steps towards protecting our water quality, including planting a filter marsh, equipment upgrades and monitoring.

“The city continues to meet all monitoring requirements and reporting expectations,” Hempleman added.

Now, both the city and Calusa Waterkeeper hope to get to the bottom of what’s causing bacteria in the creek and begin the cleaning process.

The City of Fort Myers is currently organizing a Billy Creek cleanup with FGCU students. Students can also earn credit hours while helping our water quality.

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