Savannah's Riverkeeper, and a group of vets, are working to make sure the river is safe for Ironman

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Friday, June 7, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Is the Savannah River safe to swim in? That's what the riverkeeper is testing to find out.

They'll be checking every week ahead of the big Ironman race.

Riverkeeper Truck Carlson is doing everything he can to make sure water in the area is safe to swim for the second summer in a row.

“We are testing for E. coli, and we also drop a son in the water and get water temperature and some other parameters just as general knowledge for the public,” Carlson said.

Carlson and Veterans for Clean Water will test once a week for E. coli until the Ironman Triathlon in September.

Carlson says E. coli is a naturally occurring bacteria, but large amounts can be dangerous and can be caused by a sewer main break or septic leak.

Last year they saw large amounts in Lake Olmstead.

“People could get sick,” Carlson said. “It's a very good possibility. Open sores on the legs, and that's why we share this information so they can know what the water quality is.”

Rain can also affect the water quality.

“It can wash fertilizer and a lot of the ground elements that are on the roadways through the sewer system, the storm water system, and spill in,” Carlson said.

Carlson and the veterans gather samples throughout the week, test them, and upload the results to the Swim Guide app where you can track them.

“The results come out in a trickle-down effect,” Carlson said. “If I sample Monday, I read them, I get the results back Tuesday, I'll post those results from the 6 or 7 samples I took that night.”

Not only is testing the water helping the community, it's giving the veterans a purpose again.

“There's something important in life when you've gotten used to serving to serve again in another capacity,” Carlson said.

In the Swim Guide app, the results will show up as green, yellow, or red. Carlson says if they come back red, it just means take more precaution and if you go in the water rinse off immediately when you get out.

Again, the only problem they ever found was in Lake Olmstead last year.

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