Cahaba Riverkeeper warns of unsafe swimming conditions after heavy rain

HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — The Cahaba Riverkeeper is cautioning folks about unsafe swimming conditions after high levels of E. Coli were found during testing this week.

According to the swim guide, 14 of 16 public access sites had elevated levels of bacteria.

“This week we had results in some cases even 30 times as high as what would be safe to swim,” said Cahaba Riverkeeper David Butler.

Butler tests for bacteria once a week. Friday’s results were much different than last week, when most of the sites were safe to swim.

“The volume of rain we got on Wednesday was a large contributing factor to that,” said Butler

Butler explained that higher levels of E.coli are typical after a heavy rain event, but added that this week’s results were higher than expected.

Rain can take waste and carry the bacteria to the water where families look to cool off. Butler said people with weakened immune systems and children are more susceptible to problems.

“Certainly the younger the children, the more likely it is to come in through the nose or the mouth, or open cuts,” said Butler.

At an access site in Hoover, Ryan Pruett told CBS 42 he was scoping out the water levels before the weekend. He typically checks the swim guide and says he’ll be a little more cautious after hearing about elevated levels.

“E. coli isn’t something to mess around with, so I tend to like to be aware, especially don’t want to get my head in it.”

Butler estimated most of the bacteria levels will return to normal within 72 hours, depending on the weather.

For more information about swimming conditions on the Cahaba River, click here.

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