This is a further shame on Florida, who cares so little they let their beautiful creeks and rivers become cesspools. The most depressing aspect of this article is that the despoiling is not due to a temporary sewer break, or overflow from unusually heavy rain– it is the normal status of things. This is an open sewer in the beautiful City of Gainesville.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Urban creeks in Gainesville have high levels of fecal bacteria
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) — County environmental officials are urging Gainesville residents to stay out of urban creeks in the city, citing high levels of fecal bacteria.
The Joint Water Policy Committee is made up of officials from the City of Gainesville, Alachua County and Gainesville Regional Utilities. The committee recently released a report that lists 18 bodies of water in Alachua County as being impaired by high levels of waste bacteria.
More than 2,000 bodies of water in Florida were also found to have high levels of fecal coliform.
“It’s deceiving because on a day like today, the water looks crystal clear,” said Alachua County Environmental Protection Director Chris Bird. “Yet it’s what you don’t see that can harm you. And what we’re talking about mainly is a form of bacteria that’s associated with human waste and animal waste.”
Hogtown Creek in Gainesville is a prime example of an urban creek, meaning it is affected by wastewater runoff from neighboring homes and businesses.
GRU is in charge of collecting wastewater around Gainesville. GRU Water and Wastewater Officer Tony Cunningham says the utility is partnering with customers to encourage healthy water use habits.
“Our primary solution is to really partner with our community and with our customers to really think before you flush,” Cunningham said. “What that really means is focusing on only flushing the ‘Three P’s,’ which are toilet paper, pee and poo. And not to flush things like non-flushables.”
Cunningham says things like baby wipes should not be flushed, and that residents should bag and dispose of pet waste to ensure bacteria doesn’t enter creeks.
TV20 asked the Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department whether signs would be placed to warn visitors not to enter the creek. Officials said the idea has been proposed and could be suggested by the Joint Water Policy Committee.
As far as long-term improvements, Bird said solutions laid out in the committee’s report will take time to implement.
“It’s probably gonna take decades to really improve the levels, but we are encouraged that there are a lot of things going on that are pointed in that direction,” Bird said.