Officials close yacht club beach; Unsafe levels of bacteria found
By CONNOR HOLMES, “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com
The Cape Coral Yacht Club beach is temporarily closed to swimmers after the Lee County Health Department discovered unsafe levels of bacteria in the beach’s water.
City officials will not know when the beach will be reopened until additional test results are released Tuesday.
“This is not unexpected, considering the amount of rainfall we’ve received over the past few weeks,” said city spokesperson Connie Barron. “In that runoff can be animal or bird feces that can increase the amount of bacteria in the water.“
Health officials rated the yacht club beach “poor” for enterococcus bacteria content Tuesday, per recommended levels by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
The bacteria can inhabit the intestinal tracts of humans and animals, and can cause gastroenteritis illness including diarrhea and abdominal pain, according to Lee County health officials.
Elevated levels of the bacteria indicate pollution — possibly from storm water runoff, pets and wildlife, or sewage.
The Lee County Health Department tests the water at least four times each month, according to the Florida Department of Health Web site.
Officials said all other Lee County beaches are within healthy limits of the bacteria.
Barron said the location of the yacht club beach — influenced by the Caloosahatchee River, runoff from the canal system and perhaps drainage from Lake Okeechobee — differs from other Lee County beaches located directly off the Gulf of Mexico, which may be a reason why the other beaches are not affected in the same way.
A health advisory closing the beach had not been issued by the Lee County Health Department previously this year, Barron said.
The Lee County Health Department’s Environmental Engineering Department issued a beach advisory Tuesday stating, “We recommend not swimming at Cape Coral Yacht Club Beach … water contact may pose an increased risk of disease, particularly for susceptible individuals.”
Signs will be posted at the yacht club beach indicating the department’s recommendations.
For more information on water quality testing, visit: www.doh.state.fl.us.