'No Swim' advisory issued for Venice Pier, North Jetty beaches
As a precaution, Sarasota County health officials have issued a "No Swim" advisory for the following beaches:
• Venice Pier Beach
• North Jetty Beach
The amount of enterococcus bacteria found during water quality testing on Wednesday, Sept. 12 was outside acceptable limits.The beaches remain open; however wading, swimming and water recreation is not recommended as long as there is an 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 standard. The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County expects to have the next round of test results available on Friday, Sept. 15.
Enterococcus bacteria can come from a variety of natural and human-made sources. These include pet waste, livestock, birds, wildlife (land-dwelling and marine), stormwater runoff, and human sewage from failed septic systems and sewage spills.
No sewage spills have been reported within one mile of the beaches in the past month.
The rapid response team from Sarasota County has determined the cause of the elevated bacteria levels is likely due to natural sources. The team observed a wrack line of decaying algae and numerous dead and decaying fish associated with red tide impacting the area among the rocks and along the shoreline.Wrack lines, which provide food for shorebirds and wildlife, act as natural bacteria reservoirs. Additionally, recent rainfall in the area washing accumulated pollutants, including bacteria from birds, pet feces, and wildlife into local waters may also be a contributing factor.
DOH-Sarasota Environmental Administrator Tom Higginbotham emphasizes that the Florida Healthy Beaches program protects beach goers when conditions are unsuitable for swimming. We do this by testing beach water 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 who swallow water while swimming can get stomach or intestinal illnesses. If water comes in contact with a cut or sore, people can get infections or rashes." says 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.
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.
Testing has revealed bacteria levels within acceptable limits at the following area beaches: Venice Beach, South Lido Park Beach, Lido Casino Beach, Longboat Key Beach, Siesta Beach, North Lido Beach, Nokomis Beach, Casperson Beach, Bird Key Park, Brohard Beach, Blind Pass, Manasota Key Beach, Turtle Beach and Service Club Beach.
For more information:
• Visit https://ourgulfenvironment.scgov.netand 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 visitwww.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.