[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Caloosahatchee advisories may be lifted soon


Caloosahatchee advisories may be lifted soon

Jul 11, 2011 6:30 PM EDT


Signs along the Caloosahatchee River and fresh water bodies in Lee County have been posted for more than a month warning park visitors to steer clear of swimming or eating fish.

But pending test results taken from samples on Monday, the advisory may be lifted in just one to three weeks.

Sample takers from Lee County's environmental lab taking samples from the Olga Water plant say that despite the obvious visible difference in the waters of the Caloosahatchee, a simple color test can be deceiving.

"It may not have bacteria. It may not have algae. It may not have phosphates or nitrates. It may be perfectly good water, except that it's yellow or green," says sample taker Neil Ayers.

In June, toxic blue-green algae bubbled to the river's surface. Rain has since helped it to dissipate.

"We've seen a really large improvement because of heavy rainfall. A lot of algae formed east of the Franklin Lock is now diluted," says Kurt Harclerode of Lee Natural Resources.

A recent sample found a trace of the algae's Cyanobacteria near the Sanibel Lighthouse beach.

The levels weren't high enough to be a health concern, and are actually a good indicator.

As the toxins make their way downstream to the Gulf, they'll eventually dissolve.

On Monday, the samplers looked at a total of 14 freshwater bodies. In each, they tested the flow of the water, oxygen levels, and temperature.

Each of them are indicators of the water's health and likeliness to produce algae.

From there, samples will be brought to a lab for testing.

"We've gotta make sure they're cold enough and back to the lab in the right amount of time so they're accurate," says Ayers.

The sample from the Olga plant will determine if the river is safe enough for the health advisory to be lifted.

If no toxins are found, that could take just one week. However, if toxins are found, the test could take up to three weeks.

NBC News

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