**UPDATE** -- The No Swim warning was lifted Saturday.
SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. -- Sarasota County health officials have issued a "No Swim" advisory for Venice Beach after finding elevated levels of enterococci bacteria on Thursday.
Signage advising the public not to swim or engage in water recreation at Venice Beach will remain in place until follow-up water testing results meet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recreational water safety standards. The results of follow-up water testing will be available on Friday, June 27.
Testing has revealed bacteria levels within acceptable limits at the following area beaches:
- North Lido Beach
- North Jetty Beach
- South Lido Beach
- Venice Fishing Pier
- Lido Casino Beach
- Service Club Beach
- Siesta Key Beach
- Brohard Beach
- Ringling Causeway Beach
- Caspersen Beach
- Longboat Key Public Beach
- Manasota Key Beach
- Turtle Beach
- Blind Pass Beach
- Nokomis Beach
Local health officials emphasize that people can still visit and enjoy the beach. However, residents and visitors are urged not to wade or swim in the water or engage in water recreation until the advisory is lifted. Shellfish such as crabs and shrimp collected in the immediate area of Venice Beach should not be consumed. However, it is safe to fish and consume fin-fish from these waters.
The "no-swim" advisories are based on elevated levels of indicator bacteria, some of which are naturally present in the environment.
"We know that these bacteria inhabit the intestines of humans and warm-blooded animals," said Tom Higginbotham, Florida Department of Health Environmental administrator. "Therefore, when these bacteria are detected in high concentrations in recreational waters, there is a risk that some people who swallow water while swimming or have contact with water entering the skin through a cut or sore may become ill with gastrointestinal illnesses, infections or rashes."
Enteric bacteria can come from a variety of sources including pet waste and wildlife, stormwater runoff, and human sewage from failed septic systems and sewage spills. The local rapid response team from the City of Venice has ruled out stormwater runoff, septic systems and sewage spills as a source of the bacteria. There have been no sewage spills in the area and no recent rain events to create stormwater runoff. Therefore, the elevated bacteria levels appear to be from natural sources such as birds and wildlife.
For more information, visit https://ourgulfenvironment.scgov.net and click on water monitoring and then bacterial testing to check beach water testing results of area Gulf beaches.