Local environmental group warns of high E. Coli levels in Potomac River


WASHINGTON D.C. (WDVM) — A local environmental group is warning people to be careful if they are going to spend time on the Potomac River over Labor Day weekend.

The Potomac Riverkeeper Network is warning residents to be cautious in and around the Potomac River especially after the heavy rain brought by Hurricane Ida.

Nancy Stoner, President of the Potomac Riverkeeper Network says that while swimming in the Potomac River is prohibited in Washington D.C., it is not in other areas of the watershed. She also highlighted that the popular recreation area, Fletcher’s Cove, offers kayak and stand-up paddleboarding which could also result in the potential ingestion of river water. She also warned that the heavy rainfall has caused the current to pick up which also poses another risk to those looking to enjoy time out on the Potomac River.

The environmental organization tests water samples of the Potomac River in and around the Washington D.C. area every week. They say the heavy rainfall has caused sewers to overflow and harmful surface runoff to leak into the Potomac River, causing levels of E. Coli to skyrocket.

“We actually got a rating in the 1000s this week, much, much higher than the public health standard of 410,” Stoner explained. “So that means that it’s not safe to ingest the water that it might make you sick with diarrhea or vomiting, gastroenteritis.”

The Potomac Riverkeeper Network posts their weekly tests on their Facebook page as well as to the Swim Guide, an organization that keeps up-to-date lists on the water quality of different beaches, lakes, rivers, and swimming holes all over the world. The Potomac Riverkeeper Network provides information to the Swim Guide after they take samples, by trained volunteers, and then test the samples on their research vessel, Sea Dog.

The Potomac Riverkeeper Network does not test the entire Potomac River watershed but they do conduct tests in Montgomery County and Rock Creek as well as other tributaries that feed into those waterways.

For more information about the Potomac Riverkeeper Network, please visit their website.

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