Murky water clearing up; caused by decaying vegetation after significant rainfall

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Since Hurricane Sally, the Gulf water along local shorelines hasn’t looked it’s normal crystal blue color.

This has led visitors and residents to wonder why this is happening and when it’ll clear up.

“It was really brackish looking,” said Patrick Phelps, a visitor from Tennessee.

Residents like Savannah Simmons agree.  

“It’s so much prettier usually, the clear blue water that we’re used to here at the beach,” she said.

While the murky water has been somewhat off-putting for some, experts said on Tuesday that it’s nothing to worry about.

“It is all natural,” said Scott Jackson, a UF-IFAS Bay marine extension agent who is also with the Florida Sea Grant. “We have had some tremendous amounts of wind and waves out in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Multiple tropical systems have brought intense wind and rain to the area. Mix that with decaying vegetation like leaves and driftwood, and that’s when the brownish hue takes over in the bay and in the Gulf.

“Both places are being influenced by those vegetation materials and the tannic acids that are showing up as a result,” Jackson said, adding that there is good news to look forward to. 

“Those conditions will improve as the week goes on,” he said. “As quickly as it got here we should see some return to normal, [the] pretty water that we like this time of year.”

Taken Saturday, September 26th, 2020
Taken Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

Phelps said he’s noticed the water get clearer every day.

“Today it’s a whole lot less brackish looking and matter of fact by the morning it’ll be cleared up,” he said on Tuesday.

In the meantime, the Department of Environmental Protection is actively dredging in the St. Andrews Bay federal navigation channel to help further protect St. Andrews State Park’s shoreline after Hurricane Sally caused significant erosion.

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