According to a September 1 article by Mr. Jack Prator in the Tampa Bay Times, local authorities issued a no-swim advisory for Clearwater Beach, Mandalay Park, and Sand Key due to contaminated water. Elevated levels of bacteria detected in the Gulf waters due to Hurricane Idalia.
As Labor Day weekend commenced, Pinellas County health officials cautioned beachgoers against entering the water. They imposed the no-swim advisory for Clearwater Beach, Mandalay Park, and Sand Key due to heightened bacteria levels. A news release from the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County attributed the unsafe levels of enterococci bacteria, often associated with fecal pollution, to the storm surge caused by Idalia.
The department’s release explained that storm surge can temporarily elevate bacteria counts by carrying contaminants from the land into Gulf waters. Samples collected at these beaches exceeded the limits established by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Authorities have conducted follow-up sampling at the beaches and are awaiting the results. The health department will lift the advisory once bacteria levels return to safe levels, as stated in the release.
As of September 5, the Florida Health website reports that Clearwater Beach and Sand Key Beach have achieved good water quality according to the latest testing data.
What Does This Mean For You?
This incident does not directly affect the tap water supply, but it is a reminder that water contamination incidents do happen, whether an Act of God or human error. Contamination is one of the aspects of hurricane storm surge that needs to be taken into consideration.
Homeowners who take their family’s health invest in purified drinking water. The fact is that local governments are doing all they can with the resources they have. Since about 1% of tap water is used for human consumption, ideal drinking water is up to the homeowner.
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