DEP Identifies Second Group of Polluted Waterways - Several Are in Northwest Florida

It's part of an ongoing project to decontaminate bays, estuaries, rivers, lakes and streams.

The Department of Environmental Protection says the pollution ranges from mercury
detected in fish, to excess levels of coliform bacteria in the water and periodic elevations of bacteria in shellfish. The assessment and cleanup is required by federal laws.

The sections of waterways identified this week include parts of Charlotte Harbor, parts of various tributaries of Tampa Bay and sections of the lower and middle St. Johns River.

They also include parts of the Apalachicola and Chipola Rivers in the Panhandle and parts of the St. Lucie and Loxahatchee basins in southeastern Florida.

DEP officials caution that just because a section of a waterway is considered impaired and may need some sort of cleaning does NOT mean it necessarily is unsafe. But some environmental groups say the DEP under-reports the number of polluted bodies of water, and that the agency's testing is not stringent enough.