Bacteria Monitoring

Cassani at Billy's Creek

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

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.

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.