'No Swim' advisory issued for Bird Key Park in Sarasota

'No Swim' advisory issued for Bird Key Park --in Sarasota

acastillo@bradenton.comJuly 10, 2014 

SARASOTA COUNTY -- A "No Swim" advisory for Bird Key Park on the west side of the Ringling Causeway was issued Thursday, according to Sarasota County.

Bird Key Park is an approved dog park.

According to a report, the advisory is due to elevated levels of enterococci (enteric) bacteria, some of which are naturally present in the environment.

"Enteric bacteria can come from a variety of natural and man-made sources including pet waste, livestock, wildlife, stormwater runoff, and human sewage from failed septic systems and sewage spills," the report states.

The cause of this bacteria is likely due to natural sources, according to the Sarasota County's response team. The team reportedly determined that pet owners at the park have not been picking up after their pets.

"Even though the pet waste stations were well-stocked with plastic bags for picking up the waste and garbage cans for disposal, large amounts of pet waste had been left along the beach in close proximity to the water's edge," the report states.

Another likely source of this bacteria is the stormwater flow produced by rainwater that washes not only the pet waste -- according to the news release -- but other pollutants into the bay.

Signs for the public not to swim or engage in water recreation at Bird Key Park Beach will remain in place until follow-up water testing results meet the Environmental Protection Agency recreational water safety standards, a report states. The results of that testing will be available July 11.

Local health officials say people can still visit and enjoy the beach but residents and visitors are urged to not wade or swim in the water. The report states that shellfish such as crabs and shrimp collected in the immediate area of Bird Key Park should not be consumed.

Virginia Haley, who serves as the president of Visit Sarasota County, said in a written statement that "our world-class beaches are a wonderful asset to our community.

"When making beach day plans, be sure to check the latest reports on beach conditions," she said.

Those interested in more information can visit https://ourgulfenvironment.scgov.net and click on water monitoring and then bacterial testing to check beach water testing results of area Gulf beaches or call 941-BEACHES (941-232-2437) or visit www.mote.org/beaches.

Amaris Castillo, Law Enforcement/Island Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.

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