Stay out of some Martin County waterways

4 areas with high levels of bacteria

On a day like Monday, a dip in the water sounds like a great way to cool off. But in Martin County, be careful where you're wading.


Angela Malcolm and son Curtis are out for a day of fishing at Sandsprit Park.


All catch and release because, "Out here in the Intracoastal, it's very bad water," said Malcolm.


On Thursday, the Martin County Health Department put up these signs warning of high levels of enteric bacteria here, which while not harmful, could indicate the presence of harmful wastewater.


 "That can cause some issues like skin rashes, upset stomach, diarrhea," said Renay Rouse with the Martin County Health Department.


Monday, Environmental Specialist Allison Murphy is making the rounds of nearly a dozen county waterways.


"Four rivers and we do the rivers every week and we do the beaches every other week," said Murphy.


All of the county beaches are OK right now, but Sandsprit is one of four spots under a water advisory.


Once all of the water samples have been collected from throughout the county, the next step is to take those samples to the lab.  After they arrive, chemist Don Braisted at Flower Chemical Labs in Port St. Lucie will perform the tests.


He filters the water samples through a membrane.


"It's being suctioned through the membrane filter by a  vacuum pump and any bacteria it will catch and then we put it on a petri dish and any bacteria will grow to a size we can see.  A blue green colony that has a halo around it," said Braisted.


It takes a little over 24 hours to determine if something will grow.  Then the Health Department will decide whether to keep any advisories in place so Andrea Malcolm and her son won't catch anything unhealthy.


The other areas under water advisories are the Roosevelt Bridge, Leighton Park and near the mouth of Bessey Creek in Palm City.


To get updates on Martin County water quality levels, click here.

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