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Water Quality

Although the national news media has a tendency to "blanket" an issue over an entire region, the water quality in Charlotte County is generally very good. Check the water quality of key locations by visiting Florida Health.

It is important to understand the differences between different types of water-related issues that are being discussed:

Red Tide:

In the Gulf of Mexico, red tide is typically caused by large concentrations of Karenia brevis, a microscopic algae. Medium- to high-intensity blooms can cause eye and respiratory issues in humans, and high concentrations can also cause fish kills. Humans can become ill from consuming oysters and shellfish that are harvested from an area under a red tide advisory. Keep in mind that red tide occurs naturally throughout the world. It is not known what, exactly, causes it.  Because it can occur in this part of Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission carefully monitor levels throughout the state on a frequent basis. It is important to note-- that a location that has no red tide one day, can have completely different conditions the next, as tides and winds can drastically shift a bloom in a matter of hours.  For the most up-to-date, accurate information, visit NOAA Tides and CurrentsFlorida Healthy Beaches, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission's Red Tide Page, and/or the Mote Marine/SoCool Beach Conditions site.

Blue-Green Algae:

Cyanobacterial are a naturally-occurring part of the food chain. Non-toxic and normally not an issue, the algae changes from dilute, widely-dispersed blooms to thick scum layers along shorelines when there are excessive nutrients in the water (nitrogen and phosphorus) and when other environmental conditions (wind, excessive rain, concentration of nutrients, etc.) exist. This issue has not affected Charlotte County to date, and is predominantly on the east coast and, to a lesser degree, on the southwest coast where rivers and waterways connected to Lake Okeechobee (by the St Lucie Canal and Caloosahatchee River) have experienced excessive, nutrient-high water releases.

Resources: Department of Environmental Protection Algae Monitoring / Response

Brown Tint in Water:

This is normally caused by (harmless) tannin. The brown color in the water, particularly near the rivers, is often confused with something far worse, such as sewage or pollution, which couldn’t be farther from the case. The very thing that makes Charlotte Harbor one of the most productive marine estuaries in the country is the unique ecosystem created by three rivers emptying into the harbor.  It is completely normal for fresh waters rivers to have a brown tint, due to tannin being released by vegetation in and around the rivers as they travel to the bay.  When there is heavier rainfall, the increased volume of fresh water will reach further into the harbor, particularly on an outgoing tide.  This is a normal, natural cycle, and is nothing to be concerned about, particularly in Charlotte County, where both of the rivers are relatively natural and don't have many man-made modifications upriver.


About the Charlotte Harbor Gulf Island Coast

Florida's premier year-round eco-tourism destination, Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach, The Charlotte Harbor Gulf Island Coast, is known for its pristine, unspoiled beauty. The area has hosted seven major feature films, been featured on SAIL magazine's list of the "10 Greatest Places to Sail in the United States," ranked by Golf Digest as the "Third Best Place to Live and Play Golf in America," and rated by MONEY magazine as one of the "Best Places to Live in the South." For information about area events, activities and attractions, contact the Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor and Convention Bureau, 1700 Tamiami Trail, Suite G-2, Port Charlotte, FL; 941-743-1900, or call toll free at 1-800-652-6090 for a free Visitor's Guide; or visit the Web site at CharlotteHarborTravel.com.