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)

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Fecal Indicator Bacteria

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Cassani at Billy's Creek

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Calusa Waterkeeper has been at the forefront of monitoring this Fort Myers tributary for fecal bacteria indicators.