E. coli warning signs finally installed

This week, the National Park Service finally is installing signs around the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area that will warn park visitors when E. coli levels in the river are high enough to cause health problems.

The Park Service has had the signs since December, but didn’t put them up because of legal concerns, according to park officials.

Several people close to the bacteria-testing project had accused park service officials of delaying the sign deployment for fear of hurting the business of the Chattahoochee Outdoor Center, which rents boats and rafts to park visitors.

The park service agreed to put up the signs three weeks after a CL story pointed out that only Web surfers — not park visitors — could find out when E. coli levels were high enough to possibly make people sick.

What’s more, the park service agreed to put up the signs after the U.S. Geological Survey announced that E. coli testing will stop in September because funding for the program won’t be renewed.

That means that for the next two-and-a-half months, park visitors will be able to make informed decisions about whether to get near the Chattahoochee. Then, at about the same time when rafting season on the Hooch winds down, the USGS will stop testing the water. What will the signs say next season???

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