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Water Quality Report

IAN SNAPSHOT.JPG
NASA
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WGCU
Scientists from Mote Marine Laboratory and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation are on a research mission this week in the Gulf Of Mexico to try and determine if Hurricane Ian, shown here nearing landfall at Cayo Costa on Sept. 28, 2022, may be responsible for a red tide outbreak off Sarasota County shores

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR OCT. 21, 2022

SARASOTA – There is circumstantial evidence that hurricane can cause red tide blooms, or feed small concentrations of the organism that cause red tide that normally wouldn’t develop into a full bloom but does because of the nutrients flushed from the coast by tropical storm rains, flooding, and winds.

Currently, scientists from Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation are at sea on a mission to prove the phenomena scientifically.

It seems to make sense. Several peer-reviewed studies led by Florida universities published this year have proven what has long been suspected: streams and river carry fertilizers full of nitrogen and phosphorus, and nutrient pollution from leaky septic tanks, into the Gulf of Mexico that have been proven to make red tides that are stronger and last stronger than if mankind didn’t “feed” the blooms.

And red tides have followed many hurricanes in recent years.

Now, on the heels of Hurricane Ian last month, it's happening again.

RED TIDE

Testing water samples found red tide in 25 samples in Southwest Florida, most in the waters along the popular beaches in mid-Sarasota County.

Health advisories were issued due to the presence the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, for Venice Beach, Brohard Beach, and Caspersen Beach in Venice, the Venice Fishing Pier, Service Club Park, and Nokomis and North Jetty beaches on Casey Key.

In Southwest Florida over the past week, K. brevis was observed at background concentrations offshore of Manatee County, background to high concentrations in and offshore of Sarasota County, very low concentrations in Charlotte County, and background concentrations offshore of Lee County.

No reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week.

Respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was reported over the past week in Sarasota County.

Call 866-300-9399 o hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside of Florida can dial 727-502-4956.

What is red tide?

A red tide, or harmful algal bloom, is a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plantlike organism). In Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, the species that causes most red tides is Karenia brevis. At high concentrations, the organisms may discolor the water, sometimes red, light or dark green, brown or the water may appear clear.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops when biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection collected 35 samples to test for the presence of the cyanotoxins that cause blue-green algae and none in Southwest Florida were positive.

The most recent usable satellite imagery for Lake Okeechobee shows approximately 5% coverage of low bloom potential in the southwest quadrant of the lake.

The most recent useable satellite imagery for the Caloosahatchee Estuary from shows no significant bloom potential in visible portions of the estuary. Pockets of blue-green algae can be found in small patches and in low concentrations in tributaries of the Caloosahatchee and Peace rivers, and approaching San Carlos Bay near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae also known as cyanobacteria are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater or brackish water. Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of fresh water lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad.

What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are normally present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy. Winds tend to push some floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

PREVIOUSLY ...

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR OCT. 16, 2022

CAPE CORAL – Since WGCU’s last Water Quality Report one of the strongest hurricanes on record to make landfall in Southwest Florida walloped Lee, Collier, and Charlotte counties as a strong Category 4 tropical cyclone. Hurricane Ian slowed as it neared Southwest Florida, dumping more than a foot of rain with wind gusts more than 140 miles per hour.

It will be months – perhaps longer - until the coastal environment in Southwest Florida recovers from the mayhem Ian wrought: a storm surge of 12 feet, two miles inland; on some barrier islands the surge topped 15 feet, fresh rainwater flowing down the Caloosahatchee River ran into saltwater being forced by the high winds and tides up the same waterway, tens of thousands leaky septic tanks only feet above the water table pre-storm were engulfed by floodwaters, taking nitrogen-rich raw human waste and mixing it with phosphorus-rich runoff from lawns already inundated with oils and plastics and garbage and animal feces and sending all of it into the region’s waterways.

There is so much stuff that is not supposed to be in the rivers, bays, and Gulf of Mexico that an image from space shows discolored coastal waters throughout Southwest Florida.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Saturday that water quality sampling in Southwest Florida is still impacted by the passage of Hurricane Ian.

RED TIDE

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was observed at background concentrations in four samples collected offshore of Southwest Florida over the past week.

In Southwest Florida over the past week, K. brevis was observed at background concentrations 30-40 miles offshore of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties

No reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week. Respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was not reported in Florida over the past week.

What is red tide?

A red tide, or harmful algal bloom, is a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plantlike organism). In Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, the species that causes most red tides is Karenia brevis. At high concentrations, the organisms may discolor the water, sometimes red, light or dark green, brown or the water may appear clear.

What causes red tide?

A red tide bloom develops when biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

Call 866-300-9399 at any time from anywhere in Florida to hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside of Florida can dial 727-502-4956.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection reported none of its water samples tested positive for blue-green algae in Southwest Florida during the last week.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae also known as cyanobacteria are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater or brackish water. Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of fresh water lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad.

What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are normally present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy. Winds tend to push some floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR SEPT. 26, 2022

SAN CARLOS BAY – Hurricane Ian is poised to dump so much rain on the region’s lakes, rivers, and watersheds this week that if the tropical system stays on its forecast track any situation with harmful algal blooms in Southwest Florida as of Sept. 25 is certain to change.

Over the weekend, the most current reports from state environmental agencies, conservation groups, and citizens found harmful algal blooms such as red tide or large blue-green algae concentrations largely non-existent in Southwest Florida.

RED TIDE

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was not observed in samples collected statewide over the past week, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

No reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the the past week. And respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was not reported in Florida over the past week

Call 866-300-9399 at any time from anywhere in Florida to hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside of Florida can dial 727-502-4956.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

State and local health agencies conducted blue-green algae sampling within the previous week and found evidence of the harmful algae bloom in places that include the following areas: Peace River, Josephine River, Lake Okeechobee, and the Caloosahatchee River near Dimple Creek and Cat Cay, Shell Point Road, and Lakes Park.

Some of the algae was visible, but in other places it was only in background concentrations detectable only by lab testing of the water.

Most of the places the algae were found was in the shallows around shoreline of Lake O, upriver and in tributaries of the Caloosahatchee and Peace rivers, and approaching San Carlos Bay near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee.

If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR SEPT. 18, 2022

FORT MYERS - Reports from state environmental agencies, conservation groups, and citizens said the major waterways in Southwest Florida were clear of red tide, blue-green algae, and other harmful algae blooms.

There were some minor reports offshore and in the Caloosahatchee River.

RED TIDE

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was observed at background concentrations in one sample from Southwest Florida over the past week 15 miles offshore of Collier County.

No reports of fish kills or respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide were received during the past week.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

The Lee County Environmental Lab reported the presence of Microcystis in the Caloosahatchee River upstream of the Franklin Locks as sparse specks and slight accumulation along the lock, and the same component of blue-green algae was reported as moderately abundant at the Davis Boat Ramp.

If any type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR AUG. 26, 2022

SAN CARLOS BAY - While algae blooms can, and do, occur in every month of the year, in Southwest Florida late summer and early fall is prime time. But just like the lack of tropical storms so far during this year's hurricane season, no significant red tide or blue-green outbreaks have yet occurred - and it's a good bet that nobody's complaining.

Red tide

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was not observed in samples collected in Southwest Florida during the last week, nor was there any fish kills or respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was not reported anywhere in Florida.

Blue-Green Algae

The Lee County Environmental Lab reported the presence of minor evidence of harmful algae blooms on Aug. 22 at the Alva and Davis boat ramps as sparse visible specks. The same was noticed upstream at the Franklin Locks as sparse visible specks with slight accumulation along the locks.

This is WGCU Public Media's Water Quality Report that is updated weekly to inform the public about any harmful blooms, such as red tide or blue-green algae, and any "no-swim" advisories at any of the region's beaches. For more, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has a dashboard with a plethora of real-time information about harmful algae blooms.

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR AUG. 17, 2022

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County is advising the public not to enter the water at Bonita Beach Park due to high levels of the Enterococcus bacteria. The park is at 27954 Hickory Boulevard in Bonita Springs.

Tests completed July 14 indicated that the water at the park did not meet the recreational quality criteria for Enterococcus bacteria, which are found inside the intestinal tract of humans and animals. The presence of an elevated concentration of these bacteria in the water at the shoreline is an indicator of a nearby sewage leak, pet waste in storm water runoff, and wildlife activity.

Getting in the water, walking along the water's edge, even being splashed by the water poses an increased risk of disease, particularly for the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and the very young. Animals are susceptible, too, so pets should be kept from reaching the waterline. Elevated levels of Enterococcus bacteria have been associated with an increased risk of diarrhea and abdominal pain.

This advisory will continue until bacteria levels are below acceptable limits. The results of follow-up tests will announced July 19. For more information, go to http://lee.floridahealth.gov/


Blue-green algae health alert cancelled

A health alert issued last week due to an outbreak of blue-green algae at the Davis Boat Ramp near the Franklin Locks on the Caloosahatchee River has been lifted. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection gave the all-clear after taking samples of the water and no longer finding high levels of cyanobacteria toxins.

The Davis Boat Ramp and the nearby Alva Boat Ramp both allow the public to launch watercraft into the Caloosahatchee River. The water surrounding the ramps tests positive for high levels of cyanobacteria, which is a toxin at the heart of a blue-green algae bloom, rather frequently during the summer.

In fact, the Lee County Environmental Lab reported blue-green algae toxins in water samples taken from the Alva Boat Ramp earlier this week, which appeared as "yellow-green scum along" the shore.

Not only does that often result in a nasty scum on the surface, along with floating dead mats of algae, but it can also make people and animals sick when interacting with the water or breathing nearby air. Exposure to high levels of blue-green algae and their toxins can cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, as well as skin, eye or throat irritation, and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties

If any type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission compiles real-time information on red tide, including maps and reports, on the FWRI Red Tide website. The site also provides related links to additional information including satellite images, red tide forecasts, shellfish harvesting areas, and contacts at the Florida Poison Information Center, which people can contact if they believe exposure to red tide has made them ill. The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Sciences has current satellite images searching for early signs of red tide off Southwest Florida , and Mote Marine Laboratory's Beach Conditions Report provides up-to-date information about which, if any, beaches in Southwest Florida are being affected by a red tide. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has a dashboard with a plethora of real-time information about harmful algae blooms. Learn more about harmful algae blooms here.

WATER QUALITY REPORT FOR SEPT. 18, 2022

FORT MYERS - Reports from state environmental agencies, conservation groups, and citizens said the major waterways in Southwest Florida were clear of red tide, blue-green algae, and other harmful algae blooms.

There were some minor reports offshore and in the Caloosahatchee River.

RED TIDE

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was observed at background concentrations in one sample from Southwest Florida over the past week 15 miles offshore of Collier County.

No reports of fish kills or respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide were received during the past week.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

The Lee County Environmental Lab reported the presence of Microcystis in the Caloosahatchee River upstream of the Franklin Locks as sparse specks and slight accumulation along the lock, and the same component of blue-green algae was reported as moderately abundant at the Davis Boat Ramp.

If any type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

WATER QUALITY UPDATE FOR JULY 22, 2022

The no-swim advisory at the Bonita Beach Park has been lifted.

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County is advising the public it is OK to swim at Bonita Beach Park, which for the last week had been under a no-swim advisory due to high levels of the Enterococcus bacteria. The park is at 27954 Hickory Boulevard in Bonita Springs.

Water quality testing on July 20 showed harmful bacteria amounts under the “beach action” level, which means that the water at the park meets recreational quality standards.

Red Tide

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was observed at background concentrations in Southwest Florida offshore of Collier County.

No reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week.

Respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was not reported in Florida over the past week.

Blue-green algae health alert cancelled

A health alert issued last week due to an outbreak of blue-green algae at the Davis Boat Ramp near the Franklin Locks on the Caloosahatchee River has been lifted. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection gave the all-clear after taking samples of the water and no longer finding high levels of cyanobacteria toxins.

The Davis Boat Ramp and the nearby Alva Boat Ramp both allow the public to launch watercraft into the Caloosahatchee River. The water surrounding the ramps tests positive for high levels of cyanobacteria, which is a toxin at the heart of a blue-green algae bloom, rather frequently during the summer.

While there were no high levels of blue-green algae toxins, water samples taken from the Alva Boat Ramp earlier this week found some components of cyanobacteria in the water. Exposure to high levels of blue-green algae and their toxins can cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, as well as skin, eye or throat irritation, and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties

If any type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.