UPDATE: The No-Swim Advisory that was issued on Friday, August 12th, has now been lifted after retesting has shown lowered Enterococcus levels.
SARASOTA COUNTY – As a precaution, Sarasota County health officials have issued “No Swim” advisories for the following beaches:
Siesta Key Beach
North Lido Beach
The amount of enterococcus bacteria found during water quality testing on Monday, Aug. 8 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 have resampled the beaches today, and expect those results late afternoon tomorrow.
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 have 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, said Haley.”
For more information:
Visit https://ourgulfenvironment.net and click on water monitoring and then bacterial testing to check beach water testing results of area Gulf beaches.
Call 941-BEACHES (941-232-2437) or visit www.visitbeaches.org. Click on the same link to the mobile-friendly version of the beach conditions report.
The local visitor and convention bureau known as Visit Sarasota County also provides extensive information about the Sarasota area, including its beaches. The website is www.visitsarasota.org.
FWC is doing twice weekly updates on red tide for the state at https://myfwc.com/research/redtide/statewide/, including a sampling map that is updated daily.
NOAA has a Gulf of Mexico HAB forecast (updated twice weekly while the bloom persists) that can be found at https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/hab/gomx.html.