SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. -- Sarasota County health officials have issued a precautionary "No Swim" advisory for the Venice Fishing Pier at 1600 Harbor Drive South, Venice. FL 34285. This according to a release from Sarasota County.
Full text of the advisory:
"Signage advising the public not to swim or engage in water recreation at Venice Fishing Pier will remain in place until follow-up water testing results meet the EPA's recreational water quality standard. The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) expects to have the next round of test results available on Friday, May 1.
Enteric bacteria can come from a variety of natural and man-made sources including pet waste, baby diapers when young children are playing at the water's edge, livestock, birds, wildlife (land-dwelling and marine), stormwater runoff, and human sewage from failed septic systems and sewage spills. There have been no reported sewage spills within one-mile of the beach in the past month.
'No Swim' Advisory sign at beach
The city of Venice's response team has determined that the cause of the elevated bacteria levels is likely due to natural sources. Large numbers of shorebirds were observed all along the water's edge at the Venice Fishing Pier. Recent heavy rains in the area that wash accumulated pollutants, including bacteria from pet feces, birds, and wildlife into local waters could be an important factor. Higher surf conditions associated with the storms also created turbulence in the Gulf which churns up bottom sediments that can impact water quality.
DOH-Sarasota Environmental Administrator Tom Higginbotham emphasizes that the Florida Healthy Beaches program protects beach goers from conditions unsuitable for swimming by sampling beach water and providing accurate and up-to-date explanations of the results.
"When these bacteria are detected in high concentrations in recreational waters, there is a risk that some people who swallow water while swimming or have contact with water entering the skin through a cut or sore may become ill with gastrointestinal illnesses, infections or rashes." says Higginbotham.
Local health officials emphasize that beaches remain open. However, residents and visitors are urged to take precautions by not wading or swimming in the water or engaging in water recreation at Venice Fishing Pier until the advisory is lifted. In addition, shellfish such as crabs and shrimp collected in the immediate area of Venice Fishing Pier should not be consumed. However, it is safe to fish and consume fin-fish from these waters.
"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."
To help keep beach water safe for swimming and recreation, officials say people should not allow pets to roam on beaches and in park areas and pick up pet waste since summer rains tend to wash accumulated pollutants, including bacteria from birds and wildlife into local waterways. Additionally, children in diapers and people of all ages who are experiencing diarrhea should not go into the water.
Testing has revealed bacteria levels within acceptable limits at the following area beaches:
North Lido Beach North Jetty Beach
South Lido Beach Venice Beach
Lido Casino Beach
Siesta Key Beach Service Club Beach
Bird Key Park (Ringling Causeway) Brohard Beach
Longboat Key Public Beach Caspersen Beach
Turtle Beach Manasota Key Beach
Nokomis Beach Blind Pass Beach
"It is important to know that our beaches are never closed. However, it is best to check the latest
reports on beach conditions before heading out to the beach," says Haley.
For more information:
Visit https://ourgulfenvironment.scgov.net and 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 visit www.mote.org/beaches. 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.