Double red flags are waving at Sunny Isles Beach’s 10 lifeguard stands along the nearly two-mile stretch of sand after the state health department on Wednesday issued a no-swimming advisory because testing showed high levels of bacteria.
“All we can do is warn people to stay out of the water,” said Justin Broman, the city’s Ocean Rescue manager. “We can’t force them.”
According to the health department, two samples revealed unacceptable levels of enterococci —an indicator that there is fecal pollution in the water.
Samir Elmir, an environmental administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Miami, said Wednesday that the bacteria can be caused by a variety of factors, including human waste, animal waste and storm water runoff.
“There have been no specific reports of any pollution in the area,” he said.
Swimming in water with the bacteria can cause infections and illness, especially if someone has a cut, Elmir said.
The Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade has been doing weekly testing in 17 spots across the county since 2002. Elmir said the reading happens from time to time in different spots of the county.
“It just depends on where you take the sample,” he said.
Additional water samples have been taken and are being tested, but Elmir said “Mother Nature,” usually takes care of the problem. It could take a few days for the advisory to be lifted, he said.
Broman said people are still coming to the beach, which runs from about 193rd to 158th streets on Collins Avenue, to lie on the sand and soak up some rays. A few people ventured into the water, but Broman said the chillier-than-usual water has also kept people dry.
“It’s definitely something that comes and goes,” he said. “It happens to all the beaches on the coast.”