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COLUMBUS, Ga. — The Chattahoochee River Conservancy released data showing the continued E. Coli contamination of Phenix City’s Mill Creek where it flows into the downtown section of the river.
The CRC’s reported measurement showed an E. Coli contamination of 1986.3 cfu/100mL of water, which is 8.45 times the EPA's maximum safety level. It is also 19.87 times the EPA’s recommended reading of 100 cfu/100mL for recreational use of a waterway.
According to members of CRC and several of our readers with intricate knowledge on the subject, the City of Phenix City has been aware of the continuous contamination from Mill Creek for months, but has been “unable to determine the cause” of the pathogen’s presence — which is scientifically used as a primary indicator of fecal matter.
Throughout the whole ordeal, workers of the CRC have been busting their tails to expend their extremely-limited resources to stay on top of the problem’s monitoring.
Each week throughout the summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the CRC collects water samples from 17 different locations around the river’s downtown area to test for E. Coli. The CRC is the only organization actively doing the work to bring that important data to light for our community.
Though most of the river in our area is mostly clean most of the time, there are instances of serious flare-ups that can cause serious illness to people and pets. CRC, with its small budget and resources, ventures into it anyway to measure it for you.
When levels get as high as CRC’s July 7 report of 1986 cfu/100mL at Mill Creek, it’s too dangerous to get in the water there given the heightened risk of infection from the poop-centric bacteria. Without CRC’s data, no one would ever know until after people got sick.
The CRC’s website has the following to say about why they do it:
“We believe riverfront communities and their waters are mirrors to each other. The health of one is a direct reflection of the health of the other. By improving water quality, protecting native species, and protecting our environmental progress, we are improving the quality of life and economic progress of our communities as well.”
To help CRC continue its monitoring of our watershed’s E. Coli levels, there are a few things you can do. Here’s a look at some options.
SUPPORT CRC DIRECTLY
The Chattahoochee River Conservancy is a registered 501c3 organization that accepts tax-deductible donations. Directly through their website, you can easily donate a few dollars — or many — to keep their work alive and our river clean. Each dollar directly goes to support the CRC’s initiatives to protect and preserve a healthy watershed and community.
Be sure to share it with a friend so they can help support CRC as well!
WRITE YOUR CITY COUNCIL
To reiterate, the CRC is the only local organization actively measuring the presence of dangerous pathogens in our city’s river. By letting your city council members know how important their work is to our community, they can make better policy decisions on things you might not even think are directly connected. If you don’t know who your city council members are or how to contact them, you can find out through our consolidated article here or through the city’s website.
Letting them know about Phenix City’s slow response to fixing the E. Coli problem at Mill Creek might be a great thing to mention as well — hint, hint.
VOLUNTEER WITH CRC
As a non-profit with limited resources, quality help is always welcomed! Through the CRC’s website, you can easily register as a volunteer for CRC projects like the Trash Traps, Fishing Line Recycling, Trash Clean Ups, and Shoal Spider Lily Restoration.
JOIN THE CRC CONTACT LIST
If you’re not sure how you can get involved with the CRC, you can simply join their contact list to stay connected and receive info about opportunities to get involved. You never know when the call for help might come, and they’ll need you should it happen!
FOLLOW THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA
The CRC is on Facebook and Instagram. If you’re not already following them, it’s currently the only place to find current data on the river’s water quality along with real-time updates on anything and everything river related throughout the city.
THE BOTTOM LINE
CRC does great work. They produce vital data for our community that no one else does, and they do it all on a shoestring budget with very little help.
They’re the only ones reporting on literal poop bacteria when it infects our waterways.
Maybe throw them a couple of bucks to help them keep doing what they do.
Facts are stubborn things — and we’ll keep publishing them, whether city officials like them or not.
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