The waters of Collier County, Florida, are some of the most beautiful in the nation. But for years, the county's beaches have been plagued by poor water quality that has made swimming unsafe. Recently, however, there have been signs of progress as water quality at several beaches has improved significantly.
According to a report released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than half of Collier County’s beaches now meet their standards for acceptable levels of bacteria and other pollutants in the water. This was an improvement from just three years ago when only one beach met EPA standards, and many were considered too hazardous to swim in due to elevated levels of fecal matter and other contaminants coming from nearby sewage treatment plants and landfills.
The good news is that officials believe these improvements are here to stay thanks largely to a series of upgrades made over the past few years at both local wastewater treatment facilities and at landfills throughout Collier County which have eliminated significant sources of pollution entering into area waterways. In addition, new stormwater runoff protocols designed to keep streets and parking lots clean during heavy rains have also helped reduce contaminants entering local bodies of water.
So far this year, no beach closures or advisories due to high bacterial counts or toxins have been issued, making it safe for swimmers once again after years without such assurances being given out by health officials monitoring test results across Collier County’s 10 public beaches, including Marco Island, Vanderbilt Beach Park, and Naples City Beach among others.
While it appears that improved water quality along Collier County’s shoreline is here to stay, there are still steps that need to be taken if we want our coastal environment to remain healthy going forward, such as better enforcement against illegal dumping near rivers, lakes, or estuaries; stricter regulations on fertilizer use; further protection efforts targeting endangered species like sea turtles; plus more education about pollution prevention methods like avoiding single-use plastics whenever possible all go a long way towards preserving our beloved coastlines well into future generations will enjoy them for many years yet come!