E. coli levels in Chattahoochee River ‘unsafe'

ATLANTA — The E. coli levels continue to soar in the Chattahoochee River following the recent downpours.

Early Friday morning, Channel 2’s Craig Lucie met with a watershed protection specialist and he showed Lucie how they take samples from the river to get the most accurate bacteria readings.

“When you have all that sediment and other things washing from the streets you do have E. coli and other contaminants,” said Michael Meyer, with the Chattahoochee River Keeper. “It generally meets EPA standards for safety and recreation.”

Right now, though, the water quality isn’t meeting those standards. On Friday, the E. coli count for the Chattahoochee River at Paces Ferry was 1,553. The water is considered unsafe when the reading is above 235.

Staff members with the Chattahoochee River Keeper say it's OK to go kayaking or canoeing, they just don't want you to go swimming in the water because it can get in your nose, eyes or mouth and you could get sick or have other problems.

“High levels of E. coli can result in gastrointestinal issues, ear infection and immune compromises. Older people and young kids can have much worse symptoms,” said Meyer.

Lucie met two paddle boarders who told him they will be very cautious when they get out on the water.

“If I fall in, that's bad news,” said Daniel Hakes.

“My precaution is to not get in the water too much. We don't plan to get in to do a bunch of swimming. We want to enjoy the day and stay on the board,” said Will Roney.

Unfortunately, they were not even allowed to get in the water after Lucie interviewed them because employees with Shoot the Hooch said the water levels were too high and the current was too dangerous Friday morning.