Officials with the Central Valley Water Board say recent water quality testing shows elevated levels of E. coli bacteria at certain sites along the lower American River (see the map below) which could be a risk for people get out on the water for boating, fishing, and swimming.
Adam Laputz with the CVWB said on the Tuesday before the Fourth of July holiday that it is advisable for you to check the latest E. coli levels before heading out to the river. Of special concern are the test results for E. coli at Tiscornia Beach, Discovery Park, Sutter’s Landing Regional Park, and Steelhead Creek, since they all tested above U.S. E.P.A’s recommended 2012 standards, as outlined in the agency's Recreational Water Quality Criteria.
Laputz noted that the Central Valley Water Board is providing their E. coli data to Sacramento County health and parks officials for review. Those officials, he said, will posting warnings or close down area along the river as needed to protect the public. Sacramento County also provides an online guide to using the river safely.
It is unclear as to the exact source of the E. coli contamination, according to Laputz. He said it could be birds or other animals living around the river, but it could also be the result of pet or event human feces in the water. The testing is incomplete, and he did not want to speculate prior to final test results being released.
Laputz cautioned that most strains of E. coli are harmless, but elevated levels indicate that pathogens could be in the water which have the potential to make swimmers and other people using the river sick. It is recommended that you see your doctor or other healthcare provider immediately if you suspect you have come into contact with E. coli.
Officials are also asking that you help prevent this kind of contamination of the Lower American River by using designated bathrooms and properly disposing of both human and pet waste.