Estero River

Estero River

L. Donald Duke, PhD, a professor of ecology and environmental studies in The Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University, presented findings from a year-long study of Estero River water quality to the Estero Village Council on April 7, 2021.

Duke and other faculty members enlisted students at The Water School to help collect and evaluate water samples taken from the river beginning in August 2019 and concluding in August 2020. The sampling period spanned both wet and dry seasons.

Based on bacteria counts, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has identified the Estero River as impaired. This means the amount of bacteria found in the river exceeds the states water quality standards.

This study was conducted to identify the cause of the impairment to the river and to target remedies. The project consisted of a monitoring program, laboratory and data analysis for bacteria and related water quality parameters within the Estero River. The primary objectives of the study were to gather information about the distribution of two types of fecal bacteria associated with human origins (Enterococcus and Escherichia coli, commonly called E. coli) in and near the Estero River.

FGCU researchers collect water samples in these containers for testing in the lab

FGCU researchers collect water samples in these containers for testing in the lab

Key findings:

High fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) numbers in upstream locations are evidence that human activities produce and/or enhance sources.

Sources of FIB are episodic and short-term, but in aggregate, they are substantial.

Frequency of high-FIB events confirms the presence of both human waste and other sources.

Groundwater does not appear to convey waste in soils; however, small, steady surface flows of groundwater may convey human waste into the Estero River

Knowing the biological source of bacteria in the river is the first step to remediation. The Village of Estero is working to address the issues presented, so stay tuned for updates!

FGCU Professor Serge Thomas collects a water sample

FGCU Professor Serge Thomas collects a water sample

Other water news:

Also during the April 7 meeting, the Village Council approved a $41,352 contract with Johnson Engineering to provide water monitoring services. The Villages Stormwater Master Plan indicated a need for additional water monitoring data to better understand water levels and water quality around Estero and to improve the accuracy of stormwater models.

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