Water-Related News

Human fecal bacteria found in Lee County waters

A study by Florida Atlantic University in Lee County has founded traces of it in North Fort Myers, but it’s coming from a very specific source.

Experts say it can come from a variety of sources, like runoff, and livestock, but most notably it’s coming from outdated septic systems.

“We’re looking for the presence of human fecal bacteria, which can make people sick.” said Don Duke, an Environmental Sciences Professor at FGCU.

Water sampling on the Imperial River in Bonita Springs by FGCU is pretty routine. Duke’s team is looking for signs of fecal bacteria, even in spots where humans will occasionally swim.

“Put millions of people in a place that was untouched wetland before we moved here and these kinds of problems occur.” he said.

It’s similar to a study done by Lee County and Florida Atlantic University between 2017 and 2020 in North Fort Myers, and the results were alarming.

“So that included things that we consider human waste tracers, sucralose, and artificial sweetener something that is in a lot of sodas and medicines,” said Rachel Brewton from Florida Atlantic University. “We found that, it’s not naturally occurring. Its presence indicated that there is human waste in the water.”

Rachel Brewton from FAU’s Geosciences institute says much of that human waste is coming from outdated septic systems, leeching into ground water.