Fecal Indicator Bacteria (FIB)
Bacteria contamination plaguing Florida waterways has arguably reached a crisis point. For example, Billy’s Creek, a tributary flowing into the Caloosahatchee near downtown Fort Myers, has long been a hot spot for Enterococci bacteria. Enterococcus is used as an indicator of fecal contamination which can carry disease-spreading bacterium such as E. Coli.
Independent testing of several Lee County waterways is routinely performed by Calusa Waterkeeper staff and volunteer rangers. Test results are determined in our independent lab and at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) depending on the number of samples. Calusa Waterkeeper’s close watch of local creeks has compelled more monitoring by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Enterococci bacteria can cause gastrointestinal illness, infections and rashes. Fecal indicator bacteria tests high in several Southwest Florida creeks both in the wet and dry season, but is commonly driven by stormwater runoff which carries bacteria into area waterways.
Updates & Action
Fecal Indicator Bacteria (FIB) Sampling
The data in this interactive map includes Calusa Waterkeeper test sites and publicly available data from the Florida Department of Health (FDOH). Click on a site to get more information and note the last date of sampling.
- It should be noted that we are not measuring or observing fecal matter in the water. These tests measure for fecal indicator bacteria, specifically enterococci.
- Bacteria sampling results show occurrences of serious contamination, especially in the upper reaches of Lee County tributaries.
- Contamination values have routinely been found at many times the EPA Beach Action Value of 70 MPN.
- Even with these high levels of contamination, few if any warning signs are typically posted.
- Both Lee County and municipal officials are aware of this issue.
FIB Sampling Archives
(click images to enlarge view)
Related News Stories
Fecal Indicator Bacteria
Fecal Bacteria Counts High in Many Protected Rivers & Creeks in Lee County
Some tributaries flowing into the Caloosahatchee River and Estero Bay are polluted with fecal coliform bacteria, with counts going well above the criteria used to determine whether or not a beach is safe for swimming.
Experts Warn of Contaminated Water at Lee County Beaches
Southwest Florida water experts are warning beachgoers, boaters, and the like – go in at your own risk. Calusa Waterkeeper and the Department of Health samplings show how even at beaches like Lynn Hall Beach Park, bacteria is showing in high amounts.
New Bacteria Sampling Results Released
January bacteria sampling results include new locations this month like Bunche Beach, Hendry Creek, Mullock Creek, Spring Creek, and Estero River! Take a look at Pine Island; the results were very high this month all around.
Swimmers ignore warnings of fecal bacteria from the Florida Department of Health at area beaches
Eleven Southwest Florida beaches got poor marks after tests showed high fecal bacteria counts. At popular Bonita Beach, the Florida Department of Health is advising people to stay out of the water completely until it clears.
Proposed Law Would Warn of Poop-polluted Waters Where People Boat, Wade and Fish
A new bill championed by the nonprofit Calusa Waterkeeper introduced this week in the Florida Senate would close that gap in the nearly million acres of estuaries and 9,000 miles of streams and rivers the state has verified are polluted with fecal indicator bacteria.
Florida Legislators Introduce Safe Waterways Act
State Senator Lori Berman and State Representative Yvonne Hayes Hinson recently filed SB 604 and HB 393, termed the “Safe Waterways Act.” The legislation will require county health departments to post and maintain warning signs at additional public bathing places that have been verified impaired for enterococci bacteria by the Florida Department of Health.
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Calusa Waterkeeper has been at the forefront of monitoring this Fort Myers tributary for fecal bacteria indicators.