UPDATE, AUG. 2: The “No Swim” advisories that have been in place at Sarasota County beaches since Thursday, July 28 have been lifted.
Original notices follow:
Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County officials received testing results today for Siesta Key Beach, Service Club Beach, Casperson Beach, and Manasota Key that were at a satisfactory level for enterococcus bacteria meeting both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state recreational water standards.
Residents and visitors may return to swimming and other water sports at these beach sites.
The Venice Fishing Pier and Brohard Beach in Venice, and Ringling Causeway/ Bird Key Park remain under the advisory. The next samples will be taken Monday.
SARASOTA COUNTY – As a precaution, Sarasota County health officials have issued “No Swim” advisories for the following beaches:
Bird Key Park / Ringling Causeway
Siesta Key Beach
Service Club Beach
Venice Fishing Pier
The amount of Enterococcus bacteria found during water quality testing on Monday, July 25 was outside acceptable limits. The beaches remain open, but wading, swimming and water recreation is not recommended when no swim advisories advisory in place.
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 Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County will be resampling beaches on Friday, July 29. Results will be posted on the Florida Healthy Beaches website.
Enterococcus bacteria can come from a variety of natural and human-made sources. These include pet waste, livestock, birds, land-dwelling and marine wildlife, 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 around 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.
DOH-Sarasota Environmental Administrator Tom Higginbotham emphasizes that the Florida Healthy Beaches program protects beach goers when conditions are unsuitable for swimming. This is done by testing beach water weekly and providing up-to-date explanations of the results.
“When these bacteria are found at high levels in recreational waters, there is a risk that some people may become ill. People, especially those who are very young, elderly or who have a weak immune system that swallow water while swimming can get stomach or intestinal illnesses. If water contacts a cut or sore, people can get infections or rashes.” said Higginbotham.
Local health officials emphasize that beaches remain open. However, residents and visitors are urged not to wade, swim, or engage in water recreation at these beaches 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. 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.”
For more information: