Is your local waterway safe for swimming?


GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Swimming in local waterways could put your families’ health at risk.

Several people were wading, or almost completely emerged, in the Reedy River Monday, despite warning signs against swimming due to high levels of bacteria.

“When you think about E. coli sources, there are more rural sources such as agriculture or septic. And then in the urbanized areas, you have sources such as dog waste or wildlife, such as geese, or even sewer overflows,” Katie Hottel, with Upstate Forever, said.

Hottel said swimmers would be wise to check the results of testing at local waterways through the Watershed Atlas on DHEC’s website. Right now, it shows 23 sites with swimming advisories for pollutants like E. coli.

“The time you really want to avoid taking a dip in this is 24 to 48 hours after a big storm, like the one we had yesterday in Greenville, because of all that stormwater runoff,” Hottel said.

Katie Kallahan, a watershed scientist at Clemson, who is the President of Friends of the Reedy River, is helping to work on a Reedy River report card that will likely be out at the end of the summer.

Kallahan said the findings that indicate a growth of construction could be adding to the runoff problem.

“That could be rising temperature. It could be more bacteria running off from the landscape because there are more pets, more green spaces for geese to gather, so higher E coli, chances of viruses and bacteria and possible public health risks to the stream and erosion,” Kallahan said.

That’s why non-profits like Friends of the Reedy are training citizen scientists to monitor the water, to help pinpoint sources of pollution.

While a little wading shouldn’t hurt, as long as you don’t have an open cut, it also won’t hurt to wash up afterward.

Click here to check waterways in South Carolina.

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