West Dam Recreation Area drinking water tests positive for E. Coli

By: Sheli Muniz Email
By: Sheli Muniz Email
E. Coli at park

Rangers are advising West Dam Park visitors to bring their own water because of E. Coli in the water.

News 12 at Six O' Clock / June 17, 2011

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. -- It's a popular spot at the lake, but rangers are warning about something in the water at West Dam Recreation Area.

If you are heading out to the park and recreation area, they want you to add one more item to your bag.

That's because a monthly checkup of their water came back positive for E. Coli.

The message is simple: "Most importantly, bring your own refreshments."

West Dam visitor Lou Chalker says, "Bring your own water when you come to the lake."

The problem is a little complex.

Environmental Compliance Coordinator Eric Haskell says they aren't really sure of the cause.

In May, their monthly test came back positive for Coliform bacteria meaning disease-causing organisms were found in the drinking water.

Haskell says, "We've put chlorine through the system three times, but we're still getting a positive in the well itself which is a more difficult problem. We're not sure how it's getting into the system because it's coming from underground somehow."

They run off of well water and when they retested this month, Haskell says that one was positive for E. Coli as opposed to just Coliform.

Not all E. Coli strains are harmful but they don't want to run a risk.

Outside they've removed the spigots, but in the bathrooms they still have running water so you can still flush the toilet and you can still wash your hands.

So like Chalker's family who say, "We bring our own water," they want you to make sure you bring your own.

Chalker says, "Nobody wants to get sick or anything but, you know, I wouldn't advise anybody to drink it."

Haskell says, "We had considered closing the park, but since it's a day use park you don't have people camping out relying on water locally. We figured it was more in the public interest to leave the park open and just warn people."

They have contacted all of those who have reservations and there are postings on all the doors and water supplies.

There have been no reports of anyone getting sick.

The bigger problem is that they don't know the source of the issue.
They believe it may be contaminated groundwater seeping in and have some fixes in mind.

Haskell says they are looking at long-term and most cost-effective options.

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