No swimming advisory for Coconut Point at inlet from high bacteria levels

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Health officials issued a no swimming advisory Thursday after water samples from a state park beach showed high levels of fecal-related bacteria, more than twice the regulated amount, authorities said.

Water testing from Coconut Point showed levels of the bacteria enterococci were nearly 180 colony forming units for each sample, Florida Department of Health officials said. The state regulated limit is 70 colony forming units per sample.

The spreading of enterococci is an indicator of fecal pollution, which could come from storm water run-off, wildlife, pets and human sewage, health officials said.

Coconut Point is located at the Sebastian Inlet State Park. The beach area is northeast of Sebastian and south of Brevard County.

The samples were taken to Flowers Chemical Laboratories Inc. in Port St. Lucie for testing, said Cheryl Dunn, the department’s environmental health manager. Health officials warned anyone who comes into contact with the water could have an increased risk of illness.

The advisory will be lifted when water re-sampling results improve, officials said. This is not the first incident where water samples at county beaches have shown high levels of bacteria.

On August 5, water samples collected at Coconut Point also showed high bacteria levels, but an advisory was not issued, according to health officials. In January, health officials issued a no swimming advisory after high bacteria levels were found at three beaches – South Beach, Humiston Beach and Sexton Plaza Beach.

The advisory was lifted about a week later.

The health department has been conducting marine beach water quality monitoring at six sites, including Coconut Point, since August 2002. The testing is done through the Florida Healthy Beaches Program to help identify water concerns.

Since Monday, the Sebastian Inlet area has had more than 4 and a half inches of rainfall, said Tim Sedlock, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Melbourne. It was unclear if the on-and-off showers led to the high bacteria levels.


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