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'No Swim' advisory issued for Sarasota County Beaches

By Steve Huard

July 03, 2019

SARASOTA COUNTY - As a precaution, Sarasota County health officials have issued a "No Swim" advisory for the following:
 
  • Venice Beach
  • Brohard Beach
  • Lido Casino Beach 
The amount of enterococcus bacteria found during routine weekly water quality testing on Monday, July 1, were outside acceptable limits. The beach remains 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 human 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 Thursday, July 4, 2019 after 2 p.m.
 
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 posted beach in the past two weeks.
 
The rapid response team from Sarasota County and the 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 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.
 
"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."
Testing has revealed bacteria levels within acceptable limits at the following area beaches:
Longboat Key Beach, South Lido Park Beach, Siesta Beach, North Lido Beach, Nokomis Beach, Bird Key Park Beach, Caspersen Beach, Blind Pass, Manasota Key Beach, Venice Pier Beach, Service Club Beach, Turtle Beach, Venice Beach and North Jetty Beach.
 
"It is important to know that our beaches are never closed," says Haley. "When making beach day plans, be sure to check the latest reports on beach conditions and read beach condition signs at beach entrance ways. The signs are also posted on lifeguard stands when present."
 
For more information:
 
  • 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.
 
About the Florida Department of Health
The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.
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For more information, visit www.sarasotahealth.org or call 941-861-2900.