FW: New study finds Keys canals polluted (two stories)

Precht, Bill Bprecht at pbsj.com
Wed Dec 18 16:11:27 EST 2002

Subject: New study finds Keys canals polluted (two stories).

Dear Coral- List:

Below are copies of the news articles that Brad mentioned in his earlier

Happy holidays...


William F. Precht
Ecological Sciences Program Manager

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The Key West Citizen, www.keysnews.com

Nature Conservancy study reveals contaminated Keys canals


The idyllic scenario of a home on a canal became less than picture
this week when scientists from The Nature Conservancy released the
of water quality testing conducted on 17 canals from Boca Chica to Key

The tests showed extremely high levels of enterococcus bacteria in 10 of
17 sites immediately after the heavy rains of Dec. 9 and 10.

The Environmental Protection Agency has established a guideline of 104
colony-forming units of enterococcus as an acceptable level in 100
milliliters of water.

Four Keys canals showed more than 2,000 CFUs, with the canal at
Keys in the Bay Point subdivision registering 9,139 CFUs.

The same sites averaged significantly less enterococcus bacteria in
September and October when the highest reading of 384 CFUs was taken at
canal on Cudjoe Key at Cutthroat Estates. The 17 sites were selected to
provide a cross-section of various types of canal structures throughout

"It is not surprising to see elevated bacterial levels after heavy
but the magnitude of contamination following last week's rainfall was
startling," said Brad Rosov, the marine conservation program manager for
Nature Conservancy.

Rosov also explained that enterococcus itself is not necessarily
and is found in both humans and animals. It is, however, an indicator of
viral pathogens that are harmful.

The spike in contamination after rain has long been thought to be caused
an accumulation of wastewater in dry ground, which is then flushed out
the water by heavy rains, said Jody Thomas, director of the
South Florida and Florida Keys programs.

With the contamination identified, The Nature Conservancy will now work
locate its source and determine whether the contaminants are coming from
humans or animals as the next step of the testing program known as
Keys Watch.

It is very likely that the pollution could be coming from leaking sewer
pipes that allow the wastewater to seep into the ground, Rosov said.

The conservancy hopes to know the source of the contamination in
Thomas said.

"And if it appears to be coming from human waste and wastewater, then
recommendation would be, as always, to have the county make significant
progress in infrastructure improvements," Thomas said, supporting the
installation of Advanced Wastewater Treatment to limit pollutants.

As for the safety of the contaminated canals, Dr. Jake Rutherford,
administrator of the Monroe County Health Department, said that his
does not officially have jurisdiction over canals, and he cannot issue
advisories about areas that the health department did not test.

Rutherford did, however, commend The Nature Conservancy for its testing
initiatives, and said that he, as a private citizen, would not swim in
contaminated canals. He also applauded the conservancy for taking steps
inform residents of the areas near the canals of the test results and

mbolen at keysnews.com

The canals in the following locations were tested for bacteria last week
with the following results.

The EPA has set a guideline of 104 colony-forming units as an
although not perfect, level in 100 milliliters of water.

Boca Chica, Boca Chica Ocean Shores -- 8,527 CFUs

Big Coppitt, Porpoise Point -- 5,497 CFUs

Saddlebunch Keys, Bay Point Subdivision -- 9,139 CFUs

Sugarloaf Key, Sugarloaf Shores -- 3,282 CFUs

Cudjoe Key, Cudjoe Gardens -- 394 CFUs

Cudjoe Key, Cutthroat Estates -- 521 CFUs

Big Pine Key, Eden Pines -- 97 CFUs

Big Pine Key, Whispering Pines -- 140 CFUs

Marathon, 27th Avenue -- 10 CFUs

Marathon, Dolphin Drive -- 52 CFUs

Duck Key -- 10 CFUs

Conch Key -- 52 CFUs

Port Antigua -- 30 CFUs

Tavernier, Banyan Lane -- 412 CFUs

Key Largo, Rock Harbour -- 85 CFUs

Key Largo, Pimlico Lane -- 335 CFUs

Key Largo, Sexton Cove Estates -- 2,459 CFUs

This story published on Wed, Dec 18, 2002


Florida Keys Keynoter, www.keynoter.com

Publication Date: Wednesday, December 18, 2002


Another study points to sewage in canals
More testing planned

A Nature Conservancy program designed to shed light on water quality in
canals shows extremely high levels of enterococcus bacteria in canals
recent rains, according to the environmental group.

Conservancy members said that since August, the group has been testing
water every two weeks at 17 sites throughout the Keys. The program,
known as
Florida Keys Watch, calls for water samples to be measured for
bacteria, dissolved oxygen, salinity and temperature levels.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set a recommended guideline
104 "colony forming units" of enterococci per 100 milliliters of water.
Samples taken after last week's heavy rains showed levels as high as
per 100 milliliters of water, according to the Conservancy.

During the first three months of sampling during the dry season, the
Conservancy found about 18 percent of the 17 sites averaged more than
CFU. Samples collected after last week's heavy rains showed 59 percent
above that level, some bacterial levels registering into the thousands.

"It is not surprising to see elevated bacterial levels after heavy
but the magnitude of contamination observed following last week's
was startling," said Brad Rosov, marine conservation program manager for
Nature Conservancy.

Letters with the test results are being sent to residents who live where
samples were taken, the Monroe County Health Department, the EPA and the
state Department of Environmental Protection.

Florida Keys Watch is a two-part water quality testing program that was
started to determine the levels of bacteria in Keys canals and locate
source of the contamination through viral pathogen screening.

"People have asked legitimate questions about whether humans were part
the water-quality problem in the Keys. Florida Keys Watch was started to
answer those questions," said Jody Thomas, director of the South
Florida/Keys program of The Nature Conservancy.

In early January, the Conservancy will select the six sites that
the highest continuous levels of enterococcus bacteria to be screened
further for the presence of viral pathogens. By documenting the presence
viral pathogens, scientists can determine whether human waste is the
of the bacteria contamination, Thomas said.

The test results released this week are a follow-up to a 1999 University
South Florida study that found viral pathogens were linked to human
waste in
Keys canals.

About the canal program

Following are details about The Nature Conservancy's Florida Keys Watch
Program, provided by the group:

The Nature Conservancy tests water from canals throughout the Keys for
bacteria using Idexx Laboratory's Enterolert system. Results showing
consistently high levels of enterococci bacteria from an individual
will serve as a red flag for poor canal water quality.
Canals that consistently contain high levels of enterococci will be
tested for the presence of viral pathogens and their source. Samples
will be
analyzed through the University of South Florida's independent testing
Biological Consulting Service of North Florida.
The Conservancy will sample canal water for one year at 17 fixed sites
throughout the Keys, from multiple sites within three neighborhoods, and
episodically following rainstorms.
Brad Rosov, the Conservancy's marine conservation program manager, is
administering the program. He has a bachelor's degree in neuroscience
the University of Delaware and a master's in marine biology from the
University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He will be advised by
at the University of South Florida.
The Conservancy will send a quarterly report to the University of South
Florida, the Biological Consulting Services lab, Monroe County Health
Department, the state Department of Environmental Protection, Technical
Advisory Committee of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the
and the public.

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