Local water tests for E. coli begin just in time for Memorial Day Weekend

Published 11:41 am Tuesday, May 24, 2022

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Mountain True tests recreational waters weekly for bacteria 


POLK COUNTY––Starting Memorial Day weekend, Mountain True’s Swim Guide program will be providing results for water quality in 85 recreation areas in Western North Carolina, Northeastern Tennessee, and North Georgia.

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Mountain True’s Swim Guide program, powered by volunteers and staff, collect water samples weekly to analyze and post the results on swimguide.org for area swimmers, paddlers, anglers, and others who enjoy spending time in local rivers and streams.

The first weekly E. coli bacteria monitoring results came back negative for bacteria or pathogens dangerous to humans.

Regional Director Nancy Diaz says that they test for E. coli bacteria, so people know when and where it’s safe to swim. She explains that E. coli is an indicator of the presence of other bacteria and pathogens, such as cryptosporidium, giardia, shigella, and norovirus, that are harmful to humans. Contact with or consumption of contaminated water can cause skin, ear, eye, respiratory, neurologic, and wound infections, as well as gastrointestinal illness.

Water samples are collected every Wednesday, processed, then incubated for 18 hours, and the analyzed results are posted on Thursday afternoons on the Swim Guide website.

Areas that are closer to polluting agricultural development are more heavily impacted by bacteria and pathogens.

  1. coli bacteria also enter rivers and streams from sewer and septic system leaks, stormwater runoff, and cattle or other animals accessing the water.

Mountain True states, “We are committed to keeping our mountains region a beautiful place to live, work, and play.”