Swimming advisory still in place after sewage leak contaminates water

river water
river water
Posted at 4:44 PM, Jul 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-21 14:38:19-04

MARIANNA, Fla. (WTXL) - A heads up before you head out to enjoy the weekend: health officials say some popular swimming holes aren't safe.

This week, a damaged sewage pipe near Highway 90 in Jackson County caused an untreated waste water leak. The Florida Department of Health in Jackson County is now asking people to avoid swimming in Spring Creek or the Chipola River.

T.G. Harkrider, the Environmental Health Director for the Florida Department of Health in Jackson County, says they began testing the water within an hour of the initial leak.

"We took a sample upstream from the spill and we took two downstream," said Harkrider. "The one upstream came back within acceptable limits. The first place that we sampled below the sewage leak was not acceptable."

That sample tested positive for fecal bacteria. Officials are still waiting for the results of a second round of testing.

In the meantime, the City of Marianna has put crushed lime rock around the area, trying to kill bacteria and the odor from the leak. Harkrider says, beyond that, not much more actual clean up can done. They will just keep testing the water, letting dilution and time take care of the issue.

"It's only going to get better from there," said Harkrider. "The leak has been stopped so there's no more point-source contamination coming in. Therefore, theoretically once we've got a good sample, it should stay good."

If you've recently been swimming in the area, Harkrider recommends seeking medical attention if you begin having gastrointestinal issues, like a stomachache, nausea, or diarrhea. 

Health officials will continue testing the waters over the weekend. You can contact the Florida Dept. of Health here for the latest info.