City responds to Suncoast Waterkeeper pollution concerns

City responds to Suncoast Waterkeeper water pollution concerns
Pelican feces is a common site on the floating dock next to the Bridge Street Pier. - John Chappie | Submitted

BRADENTON BEACH – On Monday, Feb. 17, the city of Bradenton Beach issued a press release in response to concerns raised in a Friday, Feb. 14 press release issued by the Suncoast Waterkeeper organization.

The Suncoast Waterkeeper press release pertained to higher than usual bacteria levels discovered in the bay waters near the Bridge Street Pier and along Bay Drive South.

“On Friday, February 14, the city was informed by Joe McClash and Andy Mele that Suncoast Waterkeeper performed two water samplings somewhere in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Class 3 body of water adjacent to Bay Drive South. The city was told that the test result identified the presence of Enterococcus. Enterococci are normally present, as colonizers, in the intestinal tract of human beings and animals, and can be recovered from feces in large quantities,” the city’s press release said.

“Mayor John Chappie has been in communication with Tom Larkin at the Manatee County Health Department. Mr. Larkin was made aware of the boating community activities in the waters tested, the Manatee County force main construction activities adjacent to that area and recent boring activities for the undergrounding of utility lines on Bridge Street. Mr. Larkin indicated he was also in communication with the Florida Healthy Beaches Program in Tallahassee regarding this matter.

“Mayor Chappie has asked the Bradenton Beach Public Works Department to conduct local inspections at and around the Bridge Street Pier. It was noted a recent CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) meeting that there have been higher counts of pelican fecal matter on the pier and floating dock, which may be the contributing cause for the recent water samplings collected by Suncoast Waterkeeper,” the city press release stated.

The press release also mentioned environmental projects previously pursued and currently being pursued by the city and/or the CRA.

“The city of Bradenton Beach has partnered with the Southwest Florida Water Management District and invested in the development and creation of a customized stormwater management plan to clean the water going into the water table and the water bodies.

“The city, through the Community Redevelopment Agency, has invested substantial funds to develop a living shoreline and use nature to promote an environmentally friendly aquaculture.

“The CRA recently authorized $5,000 to monitor the water quality impacts of the 2019 clam restoration project conducted in the waters near the pier. That authorization also includes the installation of seagrass cages that promote seagrass growth.

“The CRA also authorized $10,000 for the purchase and installation of 14 of the larger-sized Mini Reefs to be placed in the waters off the east end of the Bridge Street Pier through the Center of Anna Maria Island’s Go Green initiative,” according to the press release.

“The city has partnered with Mote Marine, S.T.A.R.T., Oceans Habitats Inc., Sea and Shoreline LLC and local restaurants and local fishermen for these projects. The city also supports the clam mitigation efforts proposed to the Florida Legislature in House Bill 3829,” the press release said.

Mayor’s thoughts

On Monday, Chappie also discussed these matters with The Sun.

He said city officials inspected the pier on Friday and looked for any possible sources for the bacteria.

He said the Public Works Department pressure washes the pier and floating dock every Friday and he noted that during a January CRA meeting Public Works Director Tom Woodard commented on the inordinate amount of pelican feces accumulating on the new floating dock.

Chappie said those weekly cleaning efforts may be a contributing factor to the higher bacteria levels.

City responds to Suncoast Waterkeeper water pollution concerns
The floating dock in Bradenton Beach is a popular destination for pelicans. – John Chappie | Submitted

“This is something we’re going to continue to follow. We want to find out what the source is,” he said.

Chappie also said the city commission recently reached consensus to add twice-yearly E. coli testing to the water monitoring being done as a follow-up to last year’s clam restoration project.

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Higher enterococcus levels cause for concern