Who Wants to Fish, Swim, Boat, Ski or Relax in Water Where Raw or Untreated Sewage is Being Discharged?
Untreated Sewage is unsightly and contains disease-carrying micro-organisms from which swimmers and water skiers can develop skin rashes, amoeba dysentery, and parasitic worm diseases.
Discharging untreated sewage can spread diseases and contaminate shellfish beds. Shellfish can transmit nearly every waterborne pathogen to humans. These pathogens cause diseases such as gastrointestinal illnesses or more serious Hepatitis, Typhoid, and Cholera.
Sewage contamination is measured in terms of fecal coliforms-bacteria produced in the intestines of all warm-blooded animals. Test results are expressed as the number of bacteria per 100 millimeters (ml) of water. Shellfish beds are closed when the coliform count reaches 14 per 100 ml of water. Public beaches are closed to swimmers when the coliform count reaches 200 per 100 ml of water.
In January 1995, The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that outbreaks of viral gastroenteritis in Florida, Georgia, and Texas resulting from the consumption of raw oysters, was traceable to marine sewage disposal on or near oyster harvesting areas in Apalachicola and Galveston Bays. In February 1995, The Journal concluded the outbreak resulted from disposal of sewage by commercial and recreational boaters, which contaminated the oyster beds. Studies also show the possibility of viral transmission in cooked oysters.
Organic matter in sewage is decomposed in the water by bacteria. During this process, the bacteria use oxygen. As a result, sewage in the water may deplete the water’s oxygen level, which can affect fish population, and that of other aquatic animals.
Clean water is important to all of us. One way for recreational boaters to improve water quality is to reduce the overboard discharge of sewage.
In a recent survey, more than 95% of boaters interviewed said they were concerned about the marine environment. Clean water makes all of our recreational activities more enjoyable, so lets all join in to help clean up our waterways.