Six facilities use Atlantic Ocean outfalls for wastewater effluent disposal. NOAA, in partnership with the U. Pinellas County has a preemptive rainfall standard for two of its marine beaches: The plant has experienced major difficulties in operating at design capacity due to premature plugging of reverse osmosis membranes, and the long term economics and reliability of the plant remain in question.
Changes to funding levels in resulted in a return to bi-weekly sampling, the elimination of all fecal coliform sampling, and a reduction of the number of sample locations. Since enterococcus bacteria are indicators of the same types of pollution as fecal coliform bacteria, this did not affect the safety of Florida Residents.
At this time sampling in the northern parts of the state was also suspended during the winter months, November through February. Enterococci are enteric bacteria that normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals.
The presence of enteric bacteria can be an indication of fecal pollution, which may come from stormwater runoff, pets and wildlife, and human sewage.
If they are present in high concentrations in recreational waters and are ingested while swimming or enter the skin through a cut or sore, they may cause human disease, infections or rashes.
According to studies conducted by the EPA, enterococci have a greater correlation with swimming-associated gastrointestinal illness in both marine and fresh waters than other bacterial indicator organisms, and are less likely to "die off" in saltwater.
If an enterococci result were observed to exceed 70 colony forming units per milliliters of beach water sampled and a resampling result also exceeds this value, then an "Advisory" would be issued for the sampling site.
Prepare Yourself Tools and resources to help you and your family prepare for any disaster. There is increasing concern in Florida regarding discharges of sewage, "gray water" and other wastes from cruise ships. Port Everglades, Florida is the third-largest cruise-ship port in the nation.
A typical cruise ship can generate up to 30, gallons of sewage per day. Once a ship is three miles out to sea, raw sewage can legally be dumped in the ocean. Wastewater from galleys, laundries and hair salons gray water can be dumped untreated anywhere in the ocean.
Surfrider Foundation's Sebastian Inlet Chapter has mounted a campaign against gambling boat pollution. See video of a protest. Surfrider Foundation also has published a general discussion of Cruise Ship Pollution. Harmful algal blooms, also commonly referred to a "red tides" have caused concern in Florida and have been implicated in the death of marine mammals.
Although historical records indicate that algal blooms have occurred for centuries, there is a concern that nutrient runoff from development, farming and phosphate mining may be making the events occur more frequently and last longer.
The Department of Health gets frequent harmful algal bloom bulletins from the NOAA, which uses satellite imagery techniques plus buoy data and field observations to detect potential algal blooms. The Department of Health alerts local health departments to be prepared for cases of respiratory distress or shellfish poisoning when a bloom is detected, and some of the health departments post red tide warnings at beaches. The Department of Health also has a red tide hotline that gets thousands of calls a year.
One use of the hotline is to take reports from people who have experienced red tide-related health effects. Even non-swimmers can get respiratory distress from K.
Red tide can affect manatees as well as humans. Here is an article from NASA with a map of affected areas in The algal bloom was blamed in the death of at least 58 manatees, as well as crabs, sponges, soft corals and at least 77 sea turtles. A substantial amount of dead fish were reported along the Florida panhandle, offshore of Fort Myers and in lower Tampa Bay. By early September , tons of dead fish and other marine animals had been removed from the beaches of Pinellas County.
In September the city of Sanibel asked the state to declare a state of emergency because of the continuing red tide and associated odors and fish kills. City officials pointed to the increased releases of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee as a contributing factor. By August scientists were reporting that the red tide had choked off oxygen and created a large dead zone which killed marine life on the ocean floor about 10 miles offshore of Tampa Bay.
Petersburg reported that the area of no or low oxygen could potentially affect more than 2, square miles between Herando County and Sarasota County. Several large patches of algae were still found off Collier County and Pinellas County in November From the beginning of the year through Oct.
Collier County has established an email notification system to alert beachgoers about red tide outbreaks. You can sign up here There were also large ares of inland waterways effected by algal blooms in , including Lake Okeechobee, the St.
High volume, continuous pumping from Lake Okeechobee seemed to be causing or exacerbating the condition. The inland waterway algal blooms were blue-green or green, and some samples were found to contain the toxic species Microcystis aeruginosa. A plume of brown water was observed stretching as much as 10 miles into the ocean from the St.
Lucie inlet and divers reported that the depth of the brown water plume extended as deep as 12 feet in some places. In summer a large red tide bloom formed off Florida's Gulf Coast. NBC News reported in August While the red tide appears almost every year, officials have not seen one this size since So far, the death count is modest: But that could change if it moves closer to shore. Current information on red tide conditions around Florida can be found on the website of the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.
Human health effects of the algal blooms seem to consist primarily of respiratory problems, especially when winds blow onshore.
Typical symptoms include a nagging, persistent cough, watery eyes and itchy throats. The alga species in this particular case was believed to be Karenia brevis. Greg Bossart, director of marine mammal research and conservation at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, is studying the possibility that algal blooms could be the cause of recent mass strandings of scores of dolphins on Hutchinson Island and in the Florida Keys.
Among the toxins found in harmful algal blooms are brevatoxin, saxitoxin and domoic acid. Algae blooms that create red tide, which kill fish and threaten tourism in Florida, would become a focus of government study under legislation drafted by Rep. The bill calls on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop a strategy for dealing with algal blooms and to coordinate research on the subject. The goal is to monitor or control the outbreaks. A similar bill drafted by Sen.
Olympia Snowe of Maine is pending in the Senate. PMN's seven goals are:. The threat of oil spills is present along any coast where offshore oil drilling is allowed or where oil tankers transport their product. Calls for oil drilling off Florida's shores in both state and federal waters in and have increased concerns about the potential for oil spills that would cause serious impacts to Florida's multi-billion dollar tourist economy and coastal ecosystems.
The massive release of oil during the period April 20, to late July from the Macondo well being drilled by the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig off the coast of Louisiana impacted beaches in the Florida Panhandle area.
Wildlife, human and ecosystem impacts from this oil spill may be felt for years to come and may extend further south along Florida's Gulf Coast shoreline. A serious oil spill from a tanker occurred in Broward County in August that left 85 tons of tar 15, gallons of crude oil on the beaches and disrupted turtle hatching season.
The money will go to two agencies, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which will use it to help areas hardest hit. A final damage assessment from the two agencies documented a week of beach closings in spots from North Broward to North Dade, about 7, dead turtle hatchlings, 25, pounds of dead fish and 12 dead birds.
Plans include sand dune creation, tree planting and wood hut construction at yet to be named beach sites; dune walkovers and disabled access at John U. Lloyd State Park; and seabird protection signs at Dania Beach pier. Brevard and Palm Beach counties will get money to enforce lighting laws designed to protect turtle hatchlings. Ten acres of mangroves also will be planted on Virginia Key in Miami-Dade . As mentioned above, Florida red tides were particularly problematic in There were more fish kills and other events, such as abnormal fish appearance or discolored waters, attributed to red tides in the first three months of than during the same time period in four of the previous five years.
In March of that year, the well-publicized die-off of several dozen manatees in southwest Florida was potentially linked to red tides. A state plan to reduce nutrients in the portion of the St. Johns River that flows through Northeast Florida has been found to be insufficient by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
The river would not have met state standards for dissolved oxygen under the proposal by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the EPA found, despite the EPA having approved that plan in April The EPA rejected the plan after reviewing it for a second time following a challenge in federal court by two environmental groups, the St. In the state plan that was rejected, nutrient levels were to be reduced up to 30 percent. The plaintiffs charged not only that Florida changed its water quality standards to "de-list" hundreds of polluted water bodies, but the EPA violated the Clean Water Act when it approved a state list that excluded waters with high mercury contents.
In July , the EPA reluctantly acknowledged for the first time that Florida arbitrarily changed state standards for: The water quality standards dispute between the state and USEPA extended into , when a compromise of sorts was announced.
The EPA said that it had approved more lenient state rules for part of the state's waterways, but would still impose the federal rules for the rest. That means the state rules cover only 15 percent while the new federal rules cover 85 percent — about , miles of waterways. State DEP officials said they were disappointed the EPA would impose federal rules on any part of the state and vowed to "work with them to craft solutions" to put the state in charge of all pollution rules.
The Clean Up Your Act report grades the Gulf States on issues such as establishing water quality standards, policies to prevent Dead Zone-causing pollution, public health protection, and facilitating public participation in the policy-making process.
The determination states that numeric nutrient water quality standards for lakes and flowing waters and for estuaries and coastal waters are necessary for the State of Florida to meet the requirements of Clean Water Act section c.
EPA signed the proposed rule addressing lakes and flowing waters on January 14, , per the terms of a consent decree. Under the "Healthy Beaches Water Sampling Program and Advisories by County" indicator it is noted "Table provides a ten year summary by year, by County, of the number of beach advisories issued.
State-wide the highest number of advisories for a single year was issued in Okaloosa County in and , but Escambia County has the highest total number of advisories for the entire 10 year time period. The project will monitor pathogens in nearshore waters and within sediments of the intertidal zone.
It will also analyze E. Results will be used to determine whether or not elevated levels of enterococci are correlated with the presence of pathogens. DOH is also examining: Determining possible sources of contamination will assist in the assessment and prevention of chronic and acute beach pollution and allow prioritization of pollution remediation projects. DEP's website has information on Florida's volunteer water quality monitoring program and other volunteer opportunities. Two useful brochures that link landscaping design with water conservation and a reduction in "urban runoff" pollution are Florida Friendly Landscaping and Florida Friendly Yards.
Surfrider Foundation's Ocean Friendly Gardens program has a similar focus and approach. It may cause infections or rashes or illness for those with weakened immune systems. Water quality tests are conducted weekly. Click here for current water quality test results for Okaloosa and Walton Counties. Swimmers should use the same precautions they normally use when entering any body of water, including lakes, streams and the Gulf.
Do not ingest the water. If you have a weakened immune system, consider not entering the water. If you have open wounds, consider limiting contact with the water and cleaning the wound thoroughly after existing the water. For additional questions, contact the local health department:
Florida Beach Water Quality Generally, the Gulf waters in Florida are very clean and healthy. Sometimes, during certain conditions, like after storms or heavy rains, the water can have temporarily high levels of bacteria. Beach Water Quality, Program Overview In , five of Florida's coastal counties began monitoring for enterococci bacteria under a grant-funded pilot program. By the beginning of , 11 Florida counties were participating in the program, which continued through July Jun 09, · Answer 1 of 3: I've been reading a lot about how hit or miss the water quality is. We've been visiting Destin since and it seems our last several trips were a disappointment (dark, rough, full of seaweed and jelly fish) compared to our first trip.