E.coli, a sometimes dangerous bacteria, has been found in the Chattahoochee River at levels too risky for human activity. Since the discovery, it has been reported that a “popular stretch of the river” has been closed off to the public, halting certain summer activities such as tubing and kayaking.
The main area of the river that is affected is an approximately 15 mile stretch, from Roswell to Atlanta. Staff that help monitor the bacteria levels in the river reported finding high levels of E.coli, leading to a dangerous imbalance between good bacteria and bad. The problem was identified though testing of the leakage of partially untreated sewage water, according to AXIOS Atlanta, “being discharged by Fulton County’s Big Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant off Willeo Road.”
One specific detail that officials wish consumers to note, is that unusually harsh storms, often leading to “gross” colored water and high levels of water, often result in a rise in E.coli bacteria levels. In this instance, however, the spiked E.coli levels were caused by a maintenance malfunction. The normal warning signs were not present in this case. In fact, the water remained “low, clear, and inviting,” making it all the more dangerous.
In order to fix the problem, officials are injecting 12 gallons of “healthy microorganisms” daily and using UV treatments in order to restore the balance. Until that process is completed, patrons can expect the river to remain closed.
What can patrons of this local river expect if they were to become ill with E.coli?
The most common symptoms that come with E.coli are nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and fever. Although most people start feeling better relatively quickly, there are some that require treatment from their local healthcare physician, or even hospitalization. Those more prone to becoming ill are people with suppressed immune systems, those who are pregnant, older than sixty-five, or who are young infants and babies. In these cases, the illness can become more serious, which is why it is extremely important that everyone (whether they swim in the Chattahoochee River or not) know the signs and symptoms involved.
While no definitive date has been provided, it is expected that the river will open to summer-activities again soon.