Update June 19, 2013: Morrison Springs reopens to public
June 19 Walton County Officials have announced that they have reopened Morrison Springs to swimmers, but will continue to keep an advisory due to elevated bacteria levels. The park was closed to swimmers on June 3rd due to high levels of enteric bacteria (enterococci). Though levels have dropped and the waters will be open to swimmers, an advisory will remain in place due to the fact that levels remain above what is considered normal.
Update June 7, 2013:
Swimming at Morrison Springs will continue to remain closed until further notice due to high levels of bacteria. The Health Department will continue to take samples to be tested. Once the samples come back and show a normal level, the County will be able to reopen the water to swimmers. While the water is closed, the surrounding park remains open.
According to Crystal Steele, environmental manager at the Walton County Health Department, the County will be continuing to monitor the water and are not sure of the source of the high readings. Steele did note that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has been treating the water to rid it of invasive hydrilla water plants.
“It is possible we are getting false readings from the hydrilla treatment,” Steele said.
Steele continued to say the County will be in contact with FWC to find out of that is the source of the situation.
Previous report from May 31:
According to Interim County Administrator Gerry Demers:
After conferring with the Health Department and Sheriff Adkinson, we are closing Morrison Springs to swimming for the weekend. The bacteria levels are extremely high and not safe to swimming. They will take readings again on Monday. The park will remain open, but the water closed for swimming.
The Florida Department of Health in Walton County has issued a swim advisory for Morrison Springs, based on the criteria for fecal indicator bacteria.
This should be considered a potential health risk to the bathing public and swimming is not recommended. Samples taken May 29 and May 30, 2013 were above the public health threshold for fecal indicator bacteria. Water quality exceedances are based upon the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended standard of no more than 61 Enterococci CFU/100mL, or 235 E. coli CFU/100mL in any single sample.
The water will be re-sampled June 3, 2013. When re-sampling indicates that the water is within the satisfactory range, the advisory will be lifted.
The Florida Department of Health in Walton County monitors monthly water samples submitted by public bathing places during their operation season. The water samples are being analyzed for enteric bacteria (fecal coliform enterococci or E. coli) that normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and warm-blooded blooded animals, and indicate the presence of pathogens which may cause swimming related diseases including gastrointestinal disease, ear and eye ailments, and skin rashes and infections. The presence of fecal indicator bacteria is an indication of fecal pollution, which may come from storm water runoff, domestic pets, wildlife, and human waste (sewage).
Sampling is also conducted by other county health departments at marine beaches and results can be found at Department of Health’s Beach Water Quality website at www.floridashealth.com/beachwater.
For more information, contact the Florida Department of Health in Walton County (850) 892-8021.