QUIETWATER BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — It was a hot and sunny Labor Day on the Gulf Coast Monday, with beachgoers enjoying the sandy white beaches — while ignoring health officials’ warning to stay out of the water.
The Escambia County Health Department, a part of the Florida Department of Health, issued a health advisory on Friday, stating the water at Quietwater Beach had been exposed to bacteria found in human and animal intestines and fecal matter.
A water sample showed levels of bacteria have exceeded established state guidelines.
“Water samples gathered at these sites showed high-levels of enterococci bacteria, which are naturally present in the intestines of people and animals,” said Escambia County Health Department Director Dr. John Lanza. “Enterococci counts commonly spike after heavy rainfall washes fecal matter from wild animals into nearby water bodies.”
The beach remains open, and despite the warning, beachgoers were seen in the water Monday — seemingly unconcerned with the bacteria in the water.
Lance Vincent, a Northwest Florida resident, said he was on the beach Monday enjoying time with his daughter.
Vincent, who has a background in the medical field, said he wasn’t concerned with the pollution because his daughter doesn’t have any cuts or open wounds.
“The skin is the very first defense to any kind of bacteria or viruses,” he said. “So we feel pretty safe with her swimming in these waters.”
Health officials are continuing to monitor the water and warn against engaging in any water activity at Quietwater Beach until further notice. A health advisory also remains in effect for the following locations:
- Bayou Texar at Bayview Park
- Bayou Grande at Navy Point, North of Sunset Avenue Bridge
- Bayou Chico at Lakewood Park