The water at the shore of Navarre Park is still testing high in bacteria levels, and health department officials are saying that the heavy rainfall in the area is likely the largest contributing factor. “Rainfall impacts test results greatly,” said Mary Beverly, an epidemiologist with the Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County. “Of course, there are plenty of other factors that all tie in, but rainfall often has the biggest impact in these situations.”
Working against the Navarre Park location is the fact that there is a large stormwater drain at the park.
The area has seen repeated rainfall several times a week since the health department first issued a water advisory on June 14 urging residents and visitors to refrain from water activities such as swimming and boating in the Sound at Navarre Park.
The tests have revealed high levels of Enterococci, or fecal strep, according to Debbie Stilphen of the Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County.
Subsequent tests continue to reveal high levels of the bacteria at the Navarre Park location, despite the fact that other tests sites have continued to test at normal levels. The Gulf Breeze Shoreline Park location tested high once two weeks ago, but returned to normal just days later.
There are five test sites in the area: Navarre Park at Hwy 98, Juana’s beach, Navarre Beach Pier, Navarre Beach West (near walkway No. 12) and Shoreline Park in Gulf Breeze.
Beverly said that while runoff from heavy rainfall is likely the largest contributing factor, current flow and fecal matter from birds and coastal wildlife can also be factors.
UPDATE 7-18: The water advisory for Navarre Park has been lifted, as the latest test results indicate that bacteria levels have returned to normal.