MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s taken a few days for floodwaters from Eta to go down. But as the water levels decreased, bacteria levels have increased around Biscayne Bay.
“When you have a lot of ground water and rainfall you’ll flush a lot of material into Biscayne Bay,” said Dr. Larry Brand.
He is a professor of marine biology and ecology at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. The material he is talking about is waste from septic tanks in an aging sewer system.
“With the rain the systems are overloaded and leaks out,” he said.
Those leaks output into the bay.
Morningside Park was just one location seeing elevated bacteria levels.
Jose Marti Park, Brickell Bay Drive, Kennedy Park, Mariner Drive and the Rosenstiel School are also reporting higher levels.
Nutrients associated with this waste can lead to algae blooms and that can lead to problems for fish and wildlife in the bay.
“At night, they consume oxygen and drive the water and aerobic,” said Brand.
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That leads to not enough oxygen for fish and other marine life, resulting in fish kills.
In addition to the danger to wildlife, residents should obviously stay out of the water.
“You don’t want to go in the water particularly if you have cuts on your legs or feet,” said Brand.
Brand added that as quickly as the problem developed it should resolve itself.
“We are going to get them to dry weather fairly soon and this problem will go away quickly,” he said.
While it will clear up in the short term, it will still leave questions and concerns for the long term.
“The water is one of the main attractions of Miami and why people come here. We should be looking after our aquatic environment,” said Philip Chapman, who was at Morningside Park with his daughter.