This week has had some of the heavier, sustained rains of the season and, as a direct result, water quality conditions in the Coosa River creeks are less than optimal right now. People recreating in the Coosa’s creeks should be extra cautious about where and how they make contact with the water. Our Swim Guide results from Thursday August 3rd can be viewed here. Text “SWIMGUIDE” to 844-83 to make sure you receive alerts as soon as they are issued.
Thursday’s water quality monitoring results indicate that all creeks which we test had elevated levels of E. coli. All of our lake sites tested below the “red” alert threshold, but many did have higher than usual bacteria levels. The alert threshold is based on an illness rate of 36 in 1,000 swimmers contracting an illness. It must be emphasized that conditions are constantly changing and these results only indicate instantaneous conditions on Thursday. Additional rain would worsen conditions while bright, sunny days would improve conditions.
Low dissolved oxygen levels detected at many sites increases the risk of a fish kill. These conditions happen because during weeks of heavy rain the sky is overcast, limiting the amount of sunlight reaching the water. Less sunlight means lower photosynthesis of aquatic plants and algae which means less dissolved oxygen in the water. If you observe a fish kill you should report it immediately. Take photographs and videos showing the full extent of the fish kill and call ADCNR (1-800-272-4263) and Coosa Riverkeeper (205-981-6565 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). A fish kill is a large volume of dead fish, often but not always including multiple species of fish.Heavy rains also bring about sewage spills because rain water infiltrates the sewer pipes and they can overflow. You can get e-mail alerts of reported sewage spills in your county by signing up on ADEM’s website. You can view a map of recent sewer spills here. For instance, a sewage spill was reported Friday morning on Little Tallasseehatchee Creek near Jacksonville and it would be wise to avoid recreating in Tallasseehatchee Creek for the weekend out of an abundance of caution. We do not currently sample Tallasseehatchee Creek.
This is one of the worst weeks of results we’ve had this summer. It is very important to recognize that conditions will eventually improve and some of these creek sites for which we are issuing alerts are normally safe for recreation and great places to go to cool off in the summer. Until next week, thanks for checking Swim Guide.