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State reinstates funding for program that monitors beaches for bacteria
July 12, 2018

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The city of Sanibel was notified on July 11 that the state has reinstated the entire funding for the Florida Health Beaches Program.

Officials reported that with the funds restored, weekly testing of bacteria levels by the Florida Department of Health will continue at all of the previous sites. The cuts called for a reduction in bacteria sampling in Lee County from 15 sites to nine sites and the sampling frequency to be reduced from weekly to bi-weekly.

"We extend our sincerest appreciation to (Lee County Commissioner) Chairman Cecil Pendergrass for expeditiously working with the state of Florida to have the Lee County Healthy Beaches Program funding restored," Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane said. "His leadership made the difference."

On July 10, the city issued three calls for action, which asked the public to contact the federal government, state officials and the Lee County Board of County Commissioners. The local call for action called upon the Lee County commissioners to restore recent funding cuts to the program.

Officials reported that the cuts would have reduced the number of sites and frequency of when and where bacteria sampling would occur on local beaches, including Sanibel. The cuts would have resulted in less information available for the public about the health and safety of the beaches.

Ruane also thanked those who responded to the city's calls for action.

"We are strongest when many speak with one voice," he said. "We can always rely on the citizens of Sanibel to be heard."

The city remains committed to continuing its collective efforts for water quality.

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