Destin's water quality gets failing marks

Jennie McKeon
This advisory sign was visible at Clement E. Taylor Park Friday morning warning swimmers of bacteria in the water.

Usually when residents and tourists head to the beach, they're warned to look out for high tides and sharks, not the quality of the water they're swimming in.

However, after the Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County released their saltwater beach monitoring results this week, it was revealed that Destin's water quality could use some improving. Henderson Beach, James Lee Park and Clement E. Taylor Park all received "poor" grades.

When the Log shared the water quality report card on Facebook, many comments pointed the finger at tourists and residents using the beach as a public restroom. Andrea Sutrick, public information officer with the Okaloosa County department of health reassured that the mass numbers of beachgoers on Memorial Day was not the cause of the water quality, or lack thereof.

"There could be a number of sources such as wildlife, storm water run-offs or sewage spills — although no sewage spills have been reported," she said.

While the Department of Health does not have the authority to ban the public from swimming in Destin waters, Sutrick does want to remind everyone to use caution when heading to the beach.

"We put the report out there as a public service to the community," she said. "It's a personal decision to head into the water, we just want to make citizens aware. We always advise them to swim at their own risk."