Poop in the Hooch monitoring program reborn
A last-minute infusion of money is keeping alive a state program that updates citizens about the level of E. coli in the Chattahoochee.
The program — called the Chattahoochee BacteriALERT — had been set to end on Sept. 30, when funding from the U.S. Geological Survey was to run out. But in an eleventh hour bailout, the state Environmental Protection Division ponied up almost half of the $184,000 needed to keep the program alive, and expand it, for one more year.
The program sends e-mails to subscribers, updating them on the latest levels of E. coli in the river. With the expansion, water tests will be taken at three sites, not just two. And the updates will come every day, not just four times a week.
The water sampling will also now test for water turbulence every 15 minutes, which will allow the USGS to calculate "real time" predictions for E. Coli levels. Before, there was a 24-hour lag time.
E. coli is a bacteria that can lead to pinkeye, diarrhea, ear, nose and throat infections and, in extreme cases, death. E. coli levels in the Chattahoochee routinely exceed the amount that can cause illness. For instance, on Sept. 25, E. coli levels shot up to 7,647 colonies per milliliter, 32 times the recommended maximum.
For more information, check out ga.water.usgs.gov/bacteria.??