Key Biscayne

Health officials: please don’t swim in parts of Biscayne Bay

A swimming advisory is in effect from the Rickenbacker Causeway to beyond the Venetian Causeway.
A swimming advisory is in effect from the Rickenbacker Causeway to beyond the Venetian Causeway. Courtesy to the Miami Herald

Health officials say not to swim in part of Biscayne Bay after an old pipe leaked waste water into the ocean — at least for the next few days.

A swimming advisory is in place over a three-square mile area from the Rickenbacker Causeway to just after the Venetian Causeway, health officials announced Tuesday. The area includes Hobie Beach, Marine Stadium and the water near MAST Academy and Jungle Island.

Officials believe waste water from a nearby waste water line leaked into an old underwater City of Miami storm drainage pipe, located at 601 Biscayne Blvd near the American Airlines Arena. The pipe is now longer in use, and the wasterwater line was shut down, stopping the discharge.

“We’re still trying to determine how this occurred,” said Mailyn Munday, a spokeswoman for Miami-Dade Water and Sewage.

“In the meantime, we have advisory signs posted along the affected areas.”

Miami-Dade Water and Sewage, the Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources and the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County are all investigating what caused the spillage and the effects on the water. Divers are currently taking samples from the water, and will continue to test the water until it is clear.

The advisory will most likely remain in place until bacterial levels are normal for two days of testing, officials said.

These aren’t the only beaches considered unsafe for swimming. Just before the Fourth of July weekend, the Florida Health Department warned beachgoers to stay away from certain Panhandle beaches because of fecal bacteria.

Exposure to beach water potentially contaminated with raw seage could lead to abdominal pain, diarrhea, skin rash, or other infections.