BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – As more people are getting outside for summer activities and looking for activities to do on the water, it’s important to make sure the water you’re getting in is clean and relatively free of bacteria before.
Riverkeepers say E. Coli in rivers is not uncommon and those levels typically rise after a big rain.
“Just because water can look clean by being crystal clear, doesn’t mean it is clean,” Chad Hoffman, Coosa Riverkeepers program director, said.
From Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, the Coosa and Cahaba Riverkeepers run water sample tests from up and down the rivers to figure out how clean the water is from bacteria like E. Coli.
After last week’s rain showers, a handful of spots along the Coosa and Cahaba rivers had a moderate or high E. Coli level.
“Rain can bring all types of bacteria, chemicals and things like that into the water and usually it takes about 48 hours for things like that to dissipate,” Hoffman said.
Riverkeepers say E. Coli in the water is nothing to be alarmed about since levels usually go down within a few days.
“I think it’s something when you persistently see that it means that you should be careful but after a big rain event when we see a lot of red on the map, doesn’t surprise us and it usually clears up within a day or two,” David Butler, riverkeeper for Cahaba Riverkeepers, said.
Riverkeepers say the best way to know if an area is clean or not is to check the swim guide for that river. They also say if an area smells like sewage, there could possibly be E. Coli in the water.
“Even if you smell it, if you see something weird, take a picture of it, reach out to us and we’ll do our best to get in touch with the state agency and figure out what you’re seeing and try an identify problems and look up how to resolve issues from there,” Hoffman said.
Riverkeepers say good practice for getting in any fresh water source is to bandage up any open wounds, shower off after you’ve been in the water and to watch closely what water your pets drink from.