Every natural water body can be a conduit for pollution, trash, bacteria, algae and microorganisms. Sacramento County and the Sacramento Area Sewer District are collaborating with the California Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Central Valley Water Board) to fund their weekly E. coli water sampling at nine sites on the American River.
Most E. coli strains are harmless and do not cause human illness. They are the helpful bacteria found in the intestines of mammals – humans, pets, wildlife and birds. Increased levels of E. coli does not necessarily equate to an increased exposure risk for swimmers. E. coli are generally found in all recreational waters.
The Central Valley Water Board will be conducting a year-long study on the Lower American River to determine the primary sources of E. coli. The study will begin this summer and is designed to more fully understand the primary sources of E. coli and any increase exposure risk to those recreating in the Lower American River.
The County Public Health Officer is the local authority in determining if a recreational area needs to be closed. Closures would be considered for a known communicable disease outbreak or a known sewage release. There have been no water-related illnesses for our rivers and streams reported to the Sacramento County Public Health Division. E.coli-related illness cases are required by Title 17 law for medical providers and labs to report E. coli-related cases to County Public Health. County Public Health investigates every reported case of E. coli-related illness to identify the source and stop the spread of the disease. If the County Public Health Officer decides there is a risk to the general public, a public notification is sent out.
Anyone enjoying public waterways should always follow healthy swimming habits:
- Do not drink recreational water or use the water for cooking.
- Do not enter the water if you have cuts or open sores, as these are pathways for bacteria to enter your body.
- Avoid algae blooms (brightly colored water) and trash in the water.
- Wash your hands or shower after swimming.
- Pay attention and follow any warning signs and postings. Do not access a water body if posted warnings indicate it is not safe to do so.
- Contact your healthcare provider if you have concerns regarding your health after swimming in recreational waters.
Learn more about E. coli, healthy swimming habits and the Lower American River monitoring map and test results on the Sacramento County Regional Parks website.
Review the Central Valley Water Board’s brochure to learn more about its mission and programs.