August 30, 2023
LEE COUNTY – The Florida Department of Health in Lee County (DOH-Lee) is advising the public not to enter the water due to the possible increased risk of water-borne illness. Water quality has been affected by Hurricane Idalia. Swimming is not recommended.
Heavy winds and rain can negatively impact coastal waters. Excessive amounts of rain and storm surge can increase the levels of harmful bacteria in these waters. The sources of the bacteria can vary and include failing septic systems, sewer line breaks, overflowing manholes, and wildlife.
Storm surge and floodwaters may have also brought debris on to the beaches. This debris is hazardous and has also been subjected to harmful bacteria. Under no circumstance should any person handle debris who is not wearing proper safety equipment.
Residents and visitors should avoid swimming in coastal waters until bacterial testing indicates sample results within the state and Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standards. Testing will begin as soon as conditions are safe, and areas are accessible. Test results can be accessed at the Florida Department of Health Healthy Beaches website: https://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/beach-water-quality/index.html.
Residents and visitors should avoid swimming in any pool until it has been properly cleaned and is fully functional. A fully functional pool has:
Been cleared of debris
Fully functional recirculation and chemical treatment equipment
Life-saving equipment that is available and operational
Properly balanced chemicals
Additional information on swimming pool water and safety can be found on the Florida Department of Health’s swimming pool webpage.
Residents are urged to avoid contact with floodwaters which come from an overflow of any body of water including rivers, lakes, or the Gulf of Mexico. Floodwater may contain fecal matter from sewage systems, septic overflow, agricultural waste, and industrial waste. Floodwaters also mask debris, downed powerlines, animals, and other hazards.