Large number of fecal bacteria found in Bonita Springs waterways

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:

Fecal bacteria has been found polluting waterways in Bonita Springs. The level of fecal bacteria from the Calusa Waterkeeper’s results was high.

They sampled 27 sites, and 22 of them failed the Florida Department of Health’s safety threshold for bacteria.

“Fecal bacteria means anything has defecated in the water,” said Don Duke, Florida Gulf Coast University’s Chair of the Department of Ecology and Environmental Studies. “In our swimming pools, we don’t get any fecal bacteria. We don’t have other critters in there. If we look at natural systems, we don’t want those to be disinfected the way swimming pools are. We have living creatures, warm-blooded creatures that use the water.”

Duke said just because fecal matter is present, doesn’t mean it’s human waste or that diseases like cholera are present.

“We do this kind of monitoring just to make sure if there were an outbreak, if there were such a terrible release that no one else had noticed, then we’re catching it in the waters. But it’s awfully rare these days to have that kind of accidental release for the wastewater treatment that operators don’t notice and immediately react to it,” Duke said.

Bacteria counts less than 70 are considered safe. The Imperial River on the day it was sampled had a count of 272. Billy’s Creek on Ortiz Avenue measured nearly 3,500.

The numbers have to be observed over the course of weeks, months or years.

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