Venice discovers high levels of nitrogen, fecal bacteria in storm water outfalls

Updated: Jun. 26, 2019 at 11:15 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A year ago, we were experiencing what many say was the worst red tide the Suncoast had seen in decades.

Last August, Venice held an emergency meeting to come up with a plan to mitigate red tide. Since then, officials have been identifying key factors that fuel the algae, and just this week they learned storm water outfalls may be part of it.

Venice already has a storm water treatment system that takes rain water from our yards and our streets, removes nutrients that feed the algae, then cleans it underground before dumping it into the Gulf of Mexico.

Testing began a few months ago to monitor the pollution that goes into the ocean from the outfalls. Preliminary test results show that despite the city’s best efforts, there are still high concentrations of nitrogen and fecal bacteria in the outflow, a number of them exceeding state standards.

“We had a long period without rain, so it was a little difficult to get our samples," City of Venice engineer, Kathleen Weeden said. "We did find some elevated concentrations, but they are consistent with other water bodies in the region, so our priority now is to look at our outfalls and where we can expand or add new water quality treatment prior to discharge.”

The city will continue to test the outfalls periodically, and drafted a budget that funds $2.7 million for these projects over the next five years.

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