Fecal Pollution Warning Issued at Matheson Hammock in Gables

Everybody is waiting to see if the Gulf oil is going to wash up on Miami's beaches anytime soon. Maybe we should be more conscious of what is already here. The Miami-Dade Health Department issued an advisory Wednesday for the atoll pool at Matheson Hammock in Coral Gables after two separate tests found the water exceeded state recommendations for fecal pollution.

Health officials recommend not swimming in the atoll pool, which looks more like a small lake just off Biscayne Bay near Gables Estates, but access to Matheson Hammock has not been closed. Officials specified that the samples found more than 400 colony-forming fecal coliform units per 100 ml of marine water.

Samir Elmir, director for Environmental Health and Engineering for the county health department, said that fecal coliform is found in the intestinal tract of humans and animals and high quantities usually indicate the presence of other pathogens. He said the bacteria itself did not make people sick. Elmir also said that during times of heavy rainfall chances of high quantity of fecal coliform increase because of storm water runoff.

The atoll pool is connected to Biscayne Bay by several culverts. Elmir said that it is usually very clean because the water inside is completely recycled every 6 to 12 hours. Matheson Hammock is popular with parents and young children. In recent months, visitors complained of rashes after swimming in the water but park officials attributed that to the concentration of jellyfish in the water.

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Sebastian del Mármol